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September 2019

Test Thyself!

More than 26 million people have completed at-home genetic tests according to estimates earlier this year by the MIT Technology Review journal. Market research firm BCC estimated the health self-monitoring market in 2016 at $16.7 billion.

Will this growing interest in self-testing and self-monitoring cross over into personal chemical exposure monitoring? An Environmental Defense Fund recent study found that people may be willing to pay up to $400 to learn about the chemicals they are exposed to.

A few recent examples of companies in this space are: Simple Water (tap water testing for a wide range of chemicals including PFAS), Million Marker (test kit to monitor endocrine disrupting compounds during pregnancy), Dadi (male fertility testing and sperm storage), Awair (home and business air quality monitoring), My Exposome (wearable passive chemical sensor), and LogicInk and Sunfly (stickers and stamps that monitor sun exposure).

So Long, Farewell, auf Wiedersehen Little Hotel Shampoo Bottles

Some of the most reviled plastic products, after straws and plastic bags, are the little shampoo and conditioner bottles found in hotels. They result in about 10X the amount of plastic waste per use compared to regular shampoo bottles. A wave of recent voluntary phase-outs including Marriott and InterContinental Group (Holiday Inn), as well as government action in the European Union, New York and California, are adding to the pressure.

One solution could be refillable containers. They are already in use at some hotels and have been available for the last 10-20 years. However the American Hotel and Lodging Association 2018 hotel trends report shows that refillable containers adoption rate was stable at 8% of the hotels surveyed. Hotels, guests, or both don’t seem to like refillables that much.

Another alternative are shampoo, conditioner, shower gel pods. Nohbo makes personal care pods using a proprietary water-free, bio-based, liquid formulation that is compatible with dissolvable membranes.

Yet another alternative is to go back to soap and call it a shampoo bar. Lush and other companies are working on that.

As plastic packaging faces pressures we expect a move toward water-free formulations (like Nohbo and Lush), which often have the additional benefit of not requiring the preservatives or additives used to keep water-based formulations stable.


The standards for clean beauty continue to rise. Credo Beauty just announced a new transparency standard for fragrances to complement their existing ingredients standard. Sephora, the largest retailer in the space, also recently released their first ingredients policy including restrictions on a number of chemicals of concern.

Ahold Delhaize announced new restrictions on toxic chemicals, including the classes of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), bisphenol A and other bisphenols, ortho-phthalates, and other chemicals. The company owns 2,000 grocery stores including the Stop & Shop and Giant chains. Home Depot has also updated its chemical policy to ban all PFAS from carpet sold in their store.

California may restrict 1,4 dioxane. The chemical is an undesired byproduct of non-ionic surfactants, and a frequent contaminant of cleaning and personal care products. The most common non-ionic surfactants contaminated with 1,4 dioxane are: polysorbate, ceteareth, polyethylene glycol. Good news for Defunkify, among others, as their effective and Safer Choice certified laundry solution has zero 1,4 dioxane in it.



AgroSpheres, developing a delivery mechanism for biological and synthetic crop protectants raised $4 million.

Terramera, developer of an alternative pesticide product raised $45 million.

Shelf Life Extension

Cambridge Crops, the maker of a silk-based protein coating used to extend the shelf life of perishable foods raised $4 million.

Hazel Technologies, who makes packaging products with bio-based additives that extend the quality shelf life of perishable goods raised $13 million.


Baze, a direct-to-consumer home blood testing and customized supplements company raised $6 million.

Dadi, a male fertility testing and sperm storage startup, raised $5 million.

Food Ingredients

Comet Bio, a maker of healthy and sustainable ingredients, raised an undisclosed amount of funding.

Motif Food Works, a spinoff company of the synthetic biology company Ginko Bioworks that is developing ingredients to replace animal protein raised $27.5 million.

Synthetic Biology

DMC, a biotech company that makes bio-based products using enhanced microbial fermentation, raised $10.3 million.

Ginkgo Bioworks, a synthetic biology company, raised $290 million.

Microphyt, a company that develops new bio-based ingredients and additives based on microalgae has raised €28.5 million.


Grove Collaborative, a direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform for natural home and personal care products raised $150 million.

Sunday, a direct-to-consumer lawn care company that delivers geographically customized nontoxic products, raised $6 million.

ThredUp, a secondhand clothing retailer raised $175 million.

NakedPoppy, an online marketplace for or ethically made and cruelty-free color cosmetic products produced without harmful chemicals, has raised $4 million.

Personal Care / Cleaning

Hawthorne, a maker of clean men's health and beauty products, raised $8 million.

Herbivore, a skincare brand focused on natural products raised $15 million.

Huron, maker of natural personal care products for men, raised $1 million.

Phlur, a clean fragrance producer has raised $7 million.

Truman's, a direct-to-consumer cleaning products company, raised $5 million.

Built Environment

ECOR, making green building materials, raised $40 million.

Circular Economy

LanzaTech, a company that converts biogas and other waste into ethanol, has raised $72 million.

Smarter Sorting, a company that uses chemical-level data about consumer products to enable product reuse and safe disposal, raised $17 million.

Food and Beverage

Atomo Coffee, developer of “coffee" without beans raised $2.6 million.

Cerebelly, an organic children’s food brand promoting brain development, raised $6.7 million.

Kite Hill, a company making plant based milk and cheese products is raising a $15 million.

Kyoku, a personalized, plant-based active nutrition brand, has raised $1.2 million.

Magic Spoon, a direct to consumer, better-for-you cereal brand, raised $5.5 million.

New Culture, a company making cheese through genetically engineered microbes, raised $3.5 million.

New Wave Foods, a company making a plant-based shrimp substitute raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the venture capital arm of Tyson Foods.

Simple Feast, a maker of plant-based fast food, has raised $33 million.

Strong Roots, a vegetarian frozen food company, has raised $18.3 million.

Tiny Organics, a baby wellness company, raised $2.5 million.

Wild Earth, a pet food producer that doesn't use animal ingredients, raised $11 million.


Boll and Branch, direct-to-consumer organic bedding brand has been acquired by growth equity firm L-Catterton for roughly $100 million.

Reformation, a fashion brand known for designing and manufacturing limited edition collections using sustainable methods and materials, has sold a majority stake in the company to the private equity Permira for undisclosed terms.

Also Noted

Target launches Clean Icon to help people identify healthier beauty options.

Checkerspot, a bio-based chemicals company, launches a brand of winter gear- WNDR-alpine.

Microplastics are not just in our food but we may be breathing them as well.

PFAS chemicals are also bad for valuation among other things.


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