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Bioweg and Ginkgo Bioworks Announce Partnership to Develop Cost Effective and Efficacious Bio-Based Materials to Reduce the Use of Microplastic Pollutants

Bioweg, a producer of highly functional and customizable bio-based materials, and Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), which is building the leading platform for cell programming and biosecurity, today announced a collaboration to optimize the production of bacterial cellulose and to produce novel variants of cellulose with improved performance to serve a variety of end markets.

Bioweg’s current products based on biodegradable bacterial cellulose have already been tested and implemented by companies as an effective substitute for widely used synthetic polymers such as acrylates, polyethylene, and polystyrene. Synthetic polymers often appear as microbeads (micropowders) and texturants (Rheology modifiers) in products throughout the cosmetics, homecare, personal care, agricultural coatings and other industries, which contribute to microplastic pollution in surface waters worldwide. It is estimated that an average person could be ingesting about 5 grams of plastic each week through the consumption of common foods and beverages, according to a study by the University of Newcastle. These microplastics are non-biodegradable and sometimes carry toxic chemicals on top of them. Regulatory agencies and communities around the world have addressed microplastics contamination through significant regulations. For example, in 2022 the European Chemical Agency announced phasing out periods of 4 and 6 years for microbeads in ‘rinse-off’ and ‘leave-on’ cosmetics, respectively.

“Consumers and companies are united in their commitment to finding better performing and more sustainable alternatives for everyday products to break the chain of microplastic pollution. Our solutions are not just tackling a major environmental, sustainability and health problem, but also present a robust market opportunity to replace plastic polymers in care, coatings, chemicals, and other industries,” said Prateek Mahalwar, CEO at Bioweg. “We believe Ginkgo’s strain engineering and screening capabilities can enable us to deliver our biobased solutions at scale and competitive pricing.”

“Bioweg is addressing a significant need in the marketplace to develop and produce a new generation of clean alternatives to synthetic polymers,” said Ena Cratsenburg, Chief Business Officer at Ginkgo Bioworks. “We are committed to supporting the shift to sustainable and bio-based high-performance alternatives and are thrilled to be working with Bioweg to address the pressing issues of microplastics contamination and promote responsible consumption.”

About BiowegBioweg, an innovative start-up based in Niedersachsen, Germany, is leading the charge against microplastics and petroleum-based polymers. With the EU’s microplastics ban in sight, Bioweg is working to create alternative bacterial cellulose-based ingredients for personal care, cosmetics, seed and fertilizer coating, and the processed food industry. Combining biotechnology, materials science, and green chemistry, Bioweg utilizes waste or side streams from the food industry as feedstock to develop these solutions. The European Union has awarded Bioweg a 12.6-million-euro European Innovation Council funding for their outstanding efforts in creating a more sustainable future for generations to come.

About Ginkgo BioworksGinkgo Bioworks is the leading horizontal platform for cell programming, providing flexible, end-to-end services that solve challenges for organizations across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to pharmaceuticals to industrial and specialty chemicals. Ginkgo’s biosecurity and public health unit, Concentric by Ginkgo, is building global infrastructure for biosecurity to empower governments, communities, and public health leaders to prevent, detect and respond to a wide variety of biological threats.

Publication date: 15/02/2023

Author: Marion Kupfer

Bio-based News


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.