Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Silas Baisch on Unsplash

Turning the world's largest seaweed bloom into useful products

Agriculture & Energy

This startup transforms over-abundant seaweed into ultra-regenerative, plant-based, advanced biomaterials

Spotted: Warming oceans and increased fertiliser and pollution run-off have sparked the largest seaweed bloom on the planet, visible from space. The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, as it’s known, clogs coastlines from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, causing an array of suffocating problems before releasing large amounts of methane when it decomposes. To try and tame Sargassum, the Puerto Rican company Carbonwave has decided to turn it into valuable biomaterials for agricultural, fashion, and cosmetic industries.  

Carbonwave was the first company to find a way to process this seaweed profitably. Using its unique method to extract biopolymers, Carbonwave has produced a wide range of Sargassum-based biomaterials that can replace fossil-fuel-based products like emulsifiers, textiles, and plastics. 

Recently, the company raised $5 million (around €4.6 million) in a series A funding round led by Mirova, with participation from investors like Viridios Capital. Eddie Listorti, CEO of Viridios Group, explains: “Taking Sargassum seaweed, which would otherwise rot on beaches and release methane, and turning it into a range of sustainable products that can displace fossil fuel-based products from the marketplace is the type of innovation the world needs to tackle climate change”. 

To date, investment funding has raised $12 million (around €10.9 million) in a bid to fulfil the growing customer demands for biomaterials. With the money, the team plans to build large-scale cosmetics production facilities in Puerto Rico. 

Springwise has previously spotted other innovations that use seaweed for sustainability, including a seaweed extract that could help tackle methane from cows and a project that uses the space between wind turbines to grow seaweed and sequester carbon.

Written By: Georgia King




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