Biobased Companies

Sep. 26, 2018

The biobased product market is growing at an exciting pace in America, as well as overseas in Canada and Europe. Companies, both new and old, are seeking to make a difference and reduce their carbon footprint. If you’re new to the biobased economy and want to learn more without feeling overwhelmed, listen to our newest Biobased Radio episode starring Jim Lane, editor and publisher of BioFuels Digest and Nuu. Both of these newsletters cover everything from sustainable fuels, chemicals, materials, policy, and more in an easy-to-read format. Millions of people around the world are curious about the biobased economy, and what it could mean for the future. Consumers are now making better choices product-wise and in employment options. They are seeking out environmentally-friendly and sustainable companies.

One of these new biobased companies includes Bolt Threads. Bolt Threads is using bioengineering to create new and innovative materials to move towards sustainable fabrics. For example, they are using spider silk for a textile and producing fabrics and garments. It is a remarkably sustainable source for a textile as Bolt Threads is replicating the process spiders use, but on a larger scale. Spider silk is stronger than steel, but as flexible as yarn so the various uses of the new material will be significant. We can potentially even incorporate it into body armor in the future! Bolt Threads has also recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for their unisex tote bag made from mushrooms. The material is similar to leather, but more sustainable in the sense this material can be produced in days versus years if one was to use animal hide to create leather.

Sprout World is another biobased company dedicated to sustainability in a fun and creative way. They launched “a small pencil with a big idea.” Most people will throw away their pencils once they become nubs, but Sprout World is producing pencils that can be planted once you’re done with them to grow flowers, herbs, and vegetables. It is a visible marker to one’s dedication to being environmentally-friendly and reducing our carbon footprint.

With all the new biobased companies being founded, it is easy to overlook established companies that are doing their part to reduce their CO2 emissions. OBIC recently spoke to Brad Rogers, Packaging Department Senior Manager with PepsiCo, a multinational company making products such as Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Mountain Dew, etc. Brad told us PepsiCo is looking to lower their greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the year 2025, while taking into account the company’s projected growth. Coca-Cola is also seeking to reduce their carbon footprint by 25% by the year 2020. As of 2017, they are 19% of the way towards their goal.

The implications of going biobased are enormous. There are many biobased companies seeking to expand the bioeconomy in new and innovative ways. The few I have highlighted are among many doing their part to reduce their carbon emissions for a more sustainable world. As resources are slowly becoming more expensive and scarce, more companies will turn towards biobased alternatives. For example, Dasani water bottles are 30% biobased already, and the remaining 70% is recycled plastic. Also, Apple’s newest iPhones are incorporating 35% recycled plastic in speaker enclosures, and 32% biobased plastic in their frames. Biobased products are around us already, but we are not even aware of it. As more companies are seeking to be sustainable, we will see a rise in the bioeconomy and manufacturing of biobased products.

Follow Biobased Radio on Twitter, and be on the lookout for new episodes regarding biobased news!

This article was written by Shivani Patel, OBIC Student Assistant and Senior at The Ohio State University.