Singapore-headquartered RWDC Industries, a biotech startup that develops and produces commercially biodegradable bioplastic, has raised $12 million in a Series A2 funding round co-anchored by venture capital firms Vickers Venture Partners and WI Harper Group.
The latest financing will help RWDC accelerate the development of its polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biodegradable biopolymers that it says can replace single-use plastics, the company said in a statement.
The Series A2 funding round was also backed by financial firm Ridgevale Enterprises Limited and individual investors.
“The Series A2 funds will primarily be used to expand PHA’s production capacity in Athens, Georgia (USA) to 2,000 tons per year, making it among the world’s largest PHA producers by early 2019,” the company said.
RWDC chief executive Dr Daniel Carraway said the US facility will be a training ground for the company’s staff and provide material for customer trials.
“At the same time, we have ambitious plans for the future. We look forward to providing the world with a truly biodegradable, 100% renewable, and highly versatile material,” Carraway said.
PHA are linear polyesters produced in nature by fermentation of sugar or oil. They are organic and have plastic-like qualities.
RWDC said its PHA is suitable for a broad range of applications, including single-use food service articles, including drinking straws and cup lids, as well as paper coatings, food and beverage packaging, consumer goods packaging, diapers, wipes, and agricultural mulch films.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, some eight million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the ocean every year globally, killing marine life and entering into the human food chain.
China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam and Thailand accounted for up to 60 per cent of the plastic waste leaking into the ocean, according to a 2015 report by the environmental campaigner Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.
“While it is unrealistic to curb the massive demand for plastic – especially in emerging markets where consumption is on a constant rise – we can still power innovators such as RWDC to develop a commercially attractive solution to a long-standing socio-ecological problem,” Vickers chairman and founding partner Dr Finian Tan said.
Tan, along with WI Harper Chairman Peter Liu, has joined RWDC’s board of directors.