Trellis Earth: Bioplastics Startup, Raising Cash at $60M Valuation?


A lot of oil companies are dead set against bioplastics, according to Trellis Earth CEO Bill Collins. Since plastics are largely made out of petroleum, many of the oil companies that own bioplastic IP won’t bring the plant-based technology to market, Collins contends. And that creates an opportunity for the Portland, Ore.-based bioplastics startup. (Please appreciate their super-cheesy water cooler biocups shot!)

Trellis Earth, which sells corn-based deliware, cutlery and bags, is only a year old, but Collins said the startup is already looking to raise an $18 million Series A round from a New York investment banking firm and other, private investors. Venture Wire first reported the planned $18 million round, and Collins told us they recently closed a seed round of $1 million.

trellis.jpgCollins also told us his company’s post-money valuation is a whopping $60 million. Whoa there — wishful thinking? We’re not sure, but there is money being made in plant-based and more eco-friendly plastics.

Bioplastics developer Metabolix (MBLX) went public in November, and has partnered with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) to build a factory. Startup Novomer, which makes alternative plastics out of carbon dioxide and monoxide, said last week that it has raised $6.6 million.

Novomer President Charles Hamilton told us last week that the future of ecoplastics would not be one that is dependent on food crops like corn. We asked Trellis Earth’s Collins what he thought about critics of a corn-based plastic future, and surprisingly, he agreed.

Collins said that while Trellis’ products currently use corn as the biomass, the startup is migrating to a different feedstock and new technology that will be “a synergy between chemistry and non-food crop biomass.” For now, bioplastic producers are largely using corn as a filler because corn is the cheapest choice. But using corn for bioplastics and biofuels contributes to the rise of food crop prices, and being dependent on the variability of food crop cycles can make the supply chain vulnerable.

Whatever these startups use will likely be more green than petroleum. Petroleum-based products don’t degrade, and continue to make up a considerable part of landfills. Of course, traditional plastic is also cheaper right now, but Collins predicted that petroleum-based plastics and bioplastics will have price parity in two years.



The valuation of Trellis at $60 was validated by a NY investment banking firm when the company was competing for the rights to build a $100M PPC bioresins plant in Texas. PPC is a fully compostable bioresin patented by the Chinese Academy of Science and certified by numerous global standards bodies. Trellis and a consortium of investor candidates lost out to Sinopec for the rights to build the world’s first PPC factory after the above article was published.

Since then Trellis has adjusted its valuation metrics and fund raising strategies significantly. Currently the company is represented by Sysco and is distributing its product throughout the United States (where it conforms 100% with all product labelling and marketing statutes, including those in California where Trellis enjoys thousands of satisfied users, including the federal government).

Trellis is a pioneer in biodegradation technology and is one of the few companies at the forefront of bioresin innovations to create products that degrade in municipal biodigestors, similar to those operating in Toronto — cornerstones of future zero-waste and “clean compost” initiatives.

If all plastics in the US were made with Trellis blends our collective consumption of oil would be reduced by over 600 million barrels annually — which points out that we have only begun to look at how much global warming is a function of ingrained habits which need not persist if companies like Trellis can help migrate consumer choices to more earth-friendly solutions.


Unfortunately, Trellis Earth products are not ASTM6400 certified as compostable/biodegradable which is required to make the claims they do (actually illegal in California). Alot of stuff like this is coming from China.


You go Trellis . . . I was at the Green Festival this weekend. I must say that drinking out of that corn derived plastic glass did a lot of good for my green conscience. After seeing the ‘Synthetic Sea’ documentary, I think twice before using anything plastic that is not recyclable.

They have won me as a consumer at least. And there are a lot of us wannabe greenies out, who are ready to pay for guiltless plastics.

marguerite manteau-rao
‘It’s All About Green Psychology’

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