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Genomatica and Unilever to scale bio alternatives

Unilever and Genomatica have launched a $120 million venture to scale up and commercialise plant-based alternatives to palm oil and fossil fuel-derived cleansing ingredients, particularly for use in personal care products. This will use Genomatica’s established biotechnology platform that makes materials from plant- or waste-based product.

“Beyond creating a newly transparent supply chain, initial estimates have shown that companies could reduce the carbon footprint of palm-derived ingredients by up to 50%,” the two stated. Palm oil will remain an important feedstock, Unilever added, but “these alternative ingredients can play a growing role in diversifying supply chains to drive optionality, sustainability and cost management”.

This is the latest in a series of collaborations with major players by Genomatica, which include producing plant-based version HMDA for sustainable coatings with Covestro, renewably-sourced PA 6,6 made from biobased HMD and a multi-year collaboration to bring renewably-sourced, bio-based materials into Lululemon Athletica’s products.

In May, a groundbreaking ceremony has taken place at the biotechnology campus in Eddyville, Iowa, where Cargill and Helm’s Qore joint venture will produce renewable 1,4-butanediol (BDO) using Genomatica’s Geno BDO process. When complete in 2024, the will have 100,000 tonnes/year of capacity.

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