Plastic waste

Singapore-based biotech startup RWDC Industries has raised US$22 million in the third tranche of its ongoing Series A round of funding, led by early-stage investment firm Vickers Venture Partners and US-based Eversource Retirement Plan Master Trust — its first institutional investor.

Others who participated in the round include cross-border VC firm and existing backer WI Harper Group.

This is a follow-up to the US$13 million that RWDC raised in the second tranche of its Series A round in October last year.

Founded in 2015 by Roland Wee and Daniel Carraway (CEO), RWDC develops cost-effective biopolymer material solutions. In particular, RWDC produces medium-chain-length polyhydroxyalkanoate (mcl-PHA) biopolymers that are designed for use across a broad range of applications.

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PHAs are linear polyesters naturally produced by bacterial fermentation of plant-based oils or sugar and are widely recognised as the only commercially viable biodegradable bioplastic. RWDC claims its PHA is fully biodegradable in soil, water and marine conditions (i.e. all potential end-of-life scenarios), fully biodegrading within weeks with no toxic residue.

The fresh investment will primarily be used to increase PHA production capacity in Georgia, USA, as well as to support its R&D efforts into prioritised applications. The company expects its first commercial batch of PHA straws to be available in the market in 2019.

The PHA resin formulated by RWDC for these straws is designed as a drop-in replacement of Polypropylene that can be used on existing extrusion machines.

“The world finally recognises the urgent need to build a green and sustainable future. Plastic waste pollution in our oceans is a real threat to societies and global growth. RWDC’s biopolymer materials are fully biodegradable, durable and functional. Our goal is to replace single-use plastic and create meaningful impact. We are very proud to partner with RWDC’s team, creating awareness to replace plastic use, while also raising the standard for the smart cities of future generations,” Peter Liu, Chairman of WI Harper Group, said.

Governments around the world are beginning to legislate more aggressively on plastic waste, with the EU leading the way with a new directive on single-use plastic articles. However, current responses focused on ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ are inadequate to alter the growth trajectory of plastic waste, risking serious consequences.

RWDC believes a better solution is to replace single-use plastics with PHA.

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash