Chemistry startup Carbios and Toulouse White Biotechnology (TWB) get $8.54 million funding to accelerate the industrialization of the biorecycling of PET plastics and fibers
Polyethylene terephthalate, commonly referred to as PET or PETE, is one of the most common polymers on the market. It is used to make everyday consumer goods such as bottles, packaging and fibers especially for clothing. 70 million tons of PET are produced each year from fossil resources. In addition, PET may not be 100% safe as originally thought because water bottles made from PET plastic leach compounds that mimic the hormone oestrogen raising questions about their safety, according to German researchers. According to the report, previous research was focused on plastics containing the chemical bisphenol-a (BPA).” During that time regular PET plastic water bottles have maintained a reputation as safe, at least as far as human health is concerned. But new evidence suggests that PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, may not be so benign after all.
Two technology companies, Carbios and Toulouse White Biotechnology (TWB), are taking action to reverse this trend. Carbios is a green chemistry company whose innovations provide solutions to the environmental and sustainable development issues that manufacturers currently face. The two companies today they have received $8.54 million (€7.5 million) of funding from the Investments for the Future Program operated by ADEME to support the scale-up of the Company’s industrial and commercial PET plastics and fibers biorecycling project, over a period of 39 months.
The €7.5 million funding was led by the General Secretariat for Investments (SGPI) as part of the Investments for the Future Program operated by ADEME for circular economy projects. Carbios, coordinator and lead manager of the project, will oversee the acceleration of the industrialization of its PET plastics and fibers technology, and will be able to receive up to €4.1million.
Founded in 2011, Carbios creates a new generation of fully biodegradable plastics with a controlled lifespan, a process enabling infinite biorecycling of plastic waste (PET) and a new biological pathway for the production of competitive bio-sourced polymers. Commenting on the funding, Jean-Claude LUMARET, CEO of Carbios, said: “We would like to thank the French environment and energy management agency for its renewed confidence in the innovations developed by Carbios. This funding represents an important step that will allow us to accelerate the industrialization of our technology.”
For Pierre MONSAN, Founder of TWB: “We are very proud of the scientific milestones achieved through this collaboration between Carbios and TWB. Our partnership has led to the emergence of new sustainable and eco-friendly solutions to the management of plastics lifecycle. This funding highlights the commitment of French public authorities to make possible the industrial development of innovative processes that can become key alternatives to conventional chemistry.”
Since its inception in 2011, the company has developed two industrial-scale biological processes for the biological breakdown and recycling of polymers. These unique innovations help optimize the performance and life cycle of plastics and textiles by capitalizing on the properties of specially selected enzymes. Carbios’s economic growth model is based on the industrial roll-out and sale of its products, enzymes, technologies and biological processes through direct licence agreements or joint ventures, to major players in the fields to whom they would most benefit.
To that end, Carbios founded the joint venture CARIOLICE in 2016, in partnership with Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients and the fund SPI, run by Bpifrance. This company, in which CARBIOS holds a controlling share, will market the first technology licensed by Carbios by producing enzyme pellets used in the production of biodegradable and bio-sourced plastics. Since its founding, Carbios has been backed by Truffle Capital, a European investment capital player. Carbios qualifies as an “Innovative Company” according to Bpifrance, which makes the company’s shares eligible for inclusion in innovation-focused mutual funds (FCPIs).