Sustainable Biotech Genomatica To Scale 100% Renewable Bio-Nylon Production 50-Fold

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Genomatica, a San Diego-based sustainable biotech, has announced plans to drastically increase production of its renewable bio-nylon solution to meet “surging brand demand”. Partnering with European nylon producer Aquafil, the firm says that it will be able to scale production by as much as 50-fold to accelerate its plans to disrupt the global textile industry. 

The multi-year agreement between Genomatica and Aquafil will bring about a 50-fold increase in the quantity of 100% renewable nylon-6, which comes after an initial trial partnership between the two companies earlier this year to produce the world’s first ton of “bio-nylon-6”. The first production runs at the Slovenia-based demonstration plant will create 50 tons of bio-nylon for pre-commercial use by Genomatica’s brand clients. Under the deal, initial volumes of bio-nylon will be available in the second half of 2021.

Developed by Genomatica, this bio-nylon material is the world’s first 100% renewably-sourced nylon-6 – made from plants instead of with crude oil. The proprietary process involves fermentation using an engineered microorganism, which then makes the chemical intermediate for nylon-6 that can be converted into nylon-6 polymer chips and yarn. 

Bio-nylon is positioned to replace a material that’s used in millions of applications every day.

Christophe Schilling, CEO, Genomatica

According to the company, the bio-nylon has a huge potential to slash the 60 million tons greenhouse gas emissions coming from the 5 million tons of nylon-6 produced every single year – a material that is often used to make everything from carpet to clothes, engineered plastics and food packaging. Genomatica’s bio-nylon specifically targets the US$960 billion textile industry, which stands as one of the largest polluters in the world

Currently, fashion alone uses up an enormous amount of virgin fibres made using non-renewable sources, an estimated 53 million tonnes annually, making new solutions that are clean, renewable, circular or recycled crucial if the industry is to tackle its unsustainable consumption of natural resources. 

“Bio-nylon is positioned to replace a material that’s used in millions of applications every day,” said Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica. He added that research undertaken by the brand has indicated that consumers are increasingly pricing in sustainability in their purchases, which is driving up brand demand for sustainable alternatives that can meet shoppers’ expectations. 

“With this scale, Genomatica is offering our brand partners a key way to meet their sustainability objectives, differentiate themselves, and meet surging consumer demand,” explained Schilling. 

After the pre-commercialisation stage, Genomatica plans to bring the material to “leading global brands” to create consumer goods and test feedback with customers.

With this scale, Genomatica is offering our brand partners a key way to meet their sustainability objectives, differentiate themselves, and meet surging consumer demand.

Christophe Schilling, CEO, Genomatica

Amidst the pressure to clean up their act, major fashion labels have taken to incorporating novel alternative materials into their lines. Fast fashion giant H&M, for instance, has taken to introducing upcycled materials such as Vegea’s grape leather into its collection, while renowned brands like Stella McCartney and Adidas plan to use Mylo, a mushroom leather material developed by Bolt Threads.

Another mushroom leather that is likely to catch the eye of designers in the industry is Reishi, a mycelium-based material that can replace both emissions-heavy traditional cowhide and petroleum-based plastic vegan leathers. Created by MycoWorks, who have recently bagged US$45 million in funding, Reishi is slated to land in the market within months. 


Lead image courtesy of iStock / Getty Images.


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