Bioplastics trailblazer Genecis scores Emerald backing in first packaging fund investment

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.”

About Emerald Technology Ventures

Emerald is a globally recognized venture capital firm founded in 2000, that manages and advises assets of over €1 billion from its offices in Zurich, Toronto and Singapore. The firm invests in start-ups that tackle big challenges in climate change and sustainability, with 4 current funds, hundreds of venture transactions and four third-party investment mandates, including loan guarantees to over 100 start-ups.

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About Genecis

Genecis is solving the climate crises of organic waste and plastic pollution with one circular economy solution: bioplastic made from food waste. Genecis’ technology converts organic waste into PHA (Polyhydroxyalkanoate), a biodegradable, compostable, and non-toxic polymer that can be tuned to replace a wide variety of traditional plastics. PHA can be used for single-use plastics, clothing and textiles, automotive interiors, medical tools and products, and food contact applications. By using organic waste for PHA production, Genecis’ process is lower-cost and lower-emission than competitors’, offering a circular economy solution for waste valorization and sustainable product development. Genecis partners with companies interested in using PHA in their supply chains, offering custom polymer and product development and co-branding. Founded in 2017, Genecis employs 45 staff, including experts in polymer science, product development, and bacteria fermentation. In 2023, Genecis aims to launch products with existing partners and their own brands, bringing the next generation of sustainable materials into the market.