Plastic production accounts for 4 percent of U.S. energy consumption, and plastic goods generate millions of tons of waste in landfills across the country each year. Talk about bad for the environment. With such an obvious need for greener plastics, it’s no wonder startups and industrial manufacturing companies are working on developing more eco-friendly versions.
Ithaca, N.Y.-based Novomer, which has developed chemical, catalyst-based processes to create plastics and other materials out of CO2, said this morning that it has raised $6.6 million in a Series A round. The three-year-old startup’s funding was led by Physic Ventures and Flagship Ventures. Novomer’s technology was developed by Professor Geoffrey Coates and his research group at Cornell University.
While most plastics are made using fossil fuels, Novomer’s President Charles Hamilton told us that the company can replace 50 percent of its material with substances like CO2. The company uses a variety of catalysts (mostly metals) to react with CO2 to form the product. Novomer will use the funds to move closer to production and work on partnerships with companies that produce CO2, like concrete manufacturers.
Bioplastics — plastics made out of plants — is also a growing field, which is delivering more eco-friendly materials. But since Novomer uses synthetic chemistry to develop its product, it’s not reliant on the availability of certain plants (or even food crops,) and doesn’t require the energy input needed to break down plants. Hamilton believes this makes his company’s technology a more attractive alternative.