Zürich, Switzerland: Cleantech venture capital pioneer Emerald has announced that it has joined an investment into Genecis, a maker of bioplastics. The Series A extension round, which also included Khosla Ventures, BDC and Amazon, will enable the startup to scale production to meet rapidly growing market needs for biodegradable packaging material.
Ontario, Canada-based Genecis manufactures bio-based alternatives to petro-plastics from organic waste using industrial biotechnology. Compared with conventional bioplastics, which often use agricultural feedstocks like corn syrup or sugarcane, Genecis’s solution is cheaper—by 40–60%—and requires no dedicated crop production. This allows it to avoid the carbon emissions generated by land cultivation and transport of agricultural feedstocks, resulting in a net-carbon negative product. The company estimates it can offset 0.8 metric tons of CO2e per metric ton of food waste processed.
Genecis cleverly eliminates the need to build costly new factories by partnering with existing waste-to-biogas plants—typically used to generate energy—further saving cost and achieving instant access to scale. Packaging products made from Genecis materials mechanically resemble conventional petroleum-based plastics and provide approximately twice the level of water resistance and 30 times as much oxygen resistance, allowing food products to stay fresher for longer. The materials decompose completely within 12 months in backyard composting conditions.
As countries and jurisdictions around the world look to reduce hard-to-degrade plastics from circulation in consumer products and landfills, Genecis offers a compelling solution that is poised to grab significant market share. The trillion-dollar global market for packaging is rapidly shifting toward more sustainable models, with the biodegradable plastic sector projected to expand from $4.1 billion in 2021 to $9.4 billion in 2027. Genecis is focusing on food and healthcare as primary applications for its solution.
Commitment to circularity
Emerald launched a sustainable packaging fund last year, focused on enhancing circularity in packaging via solutions like low-footprint feedstocks. As the first announced investment under this fund, Genecis represents a bold bet on a technology with potential to transform the conventional plastic packaging value chain.
“Bioplastics are a major growth sector and Genecis is well-placed with its economical, nimble and environmentally-sustainable solution,” says Emerald Partner Neil Cameron. “We are excited to support its growth and help it scale.”