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Replacing plastic: This female-founded startup grabs $15.4M funding

Loliwere founder
Image credits: Loliwere

According to the United Nations Environment Program, by 2050, the plastic industry could account for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption. On the other hand, seaweed provides a particularly valuable source of carbohydrates for biomaterials. It grows prolifically without fertilisers, land, or fresh water – offering advantages over alternative plants that can produce bioplastics. In addition to de-acidifying and re-oxygenating the ocean, it absorbs carbon as it grows. Recently, a UK-based startup raised £3M funding for seaweed-based bioplastic packaging.

Relatively, Loliware, which uses seaweed material for sustainable packaging, has raised a total of $15.4 million, with $6 million raised in its latest round of pre-series A funding – making it the market’s best-funded seaweed materials tech company.

This most recent round of funders includes investors US-based L Catterton, CityRock Venture Partners, Alumni Ventures Group, Geekdom Fund, Ehukai Investments, 5 Pillars Capital, Kilara Capital founder and managing director Ben Krasnostein, Clay Rockefeller, Kiss the Ground co-founder Ryland Engelhart, Nutiva founder and former CEO John Roulac, Blue Bottle Coffee founder Bryan Meehan, and others. U.S.-based plastics manufacturer Sinclair and Rush has committed capital as well.

In addition to expanding research and development capabilities, the company plans to continue growing in the seaweed materials market. “Climate change is a worldwide problem, and our pelletised seaweed resins are a step toward a solution,” said Loliware founder and CEO Sea F. Briganti. “By reducing CO2 emissions and strengthening the ocean-based ‘blue economy,’ our seaweed-derived products make it clear that regenerating the Earth is good business.”

Replacing single-use plastic

Founded in 2016, by Chelsea Briganti and Leigh Ann Tucker, Loliware focuses on regenerative materials that support a stronger ecosystem. “Demand for seaweed-based products promotes the creation of seaweed-farming operations in coastal communities worldwide,” Briganti added. “This not only creates jobs where they are needed most but these undersea forests filter and oxygenate oceans while capturing carbon.”

The Californian startup’s seaweed-derived resins are compatible with existing manufacturing plastic extruding equipment, providing a unique, cost-effective way to replace single-use plastics at scale. The seaweed can be processed into Loliware’s materials at local facilities and made into a wide array of products which compost easily and enrich the soil.

“We are so excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for Loliware,” said Whitney Casey, Venture Partner at L Catterton. “The potential for their patented SEA technology to disrupt the broader materials market is huge. Straws are just the beginning for Sea and her team.”

“What Loliware has created is revolutionary and is on the cusp of a paradigm shift in plastics,” said Alumni Ventures managing partner Cainon Coates. “By removing adoption and scale barriers, plastic manufacturers can simply swap plastic pellets for their seaweed pellets. The impact and upside potential are massive.”

Designed to disappear, Loliware replaces single-use plastic with seaweed-derived alternatives. As the first company worldwide to truly scale seaweed as a viable replacement for plastic, the SEA (Seaweed-derived, Emission-avoiding, Alternatives to Plastic) technology represents a new category of sustainable, regenerative resins derived from seaweed – a bio-renewable and carbon-capturing input. The Loliware drinking straw is the first product launched in the category. In order to progress towards a plastic-free, decarbonised future, SEA Technology resins are currently being applied to single-use items, such as straws, cups, utensils, and films.

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