In pursuit of its 2030 ambition to reduce the use of fossil fuel-based plastics by half before the end of the decade, Kimberly-Clark announced a partnership with WI Harper-backed biotech company RWDC Industries to advance sustainable technology for consumer products that provides much-needed solutions to the world’s single-use plastics problem. WI Harper Group led RWDC’s Series A of $13M in October 2018. Subsequently, WI Harper also followed-on to its Series A1 of $22M in April 2019, and to its Series B stapled round of $150M in March 2020.
The collaboration brings together Kimberly-Clark’s deep experience in nonwoven technologies and resin development with RDWC’s innovative and cost-effective biopolymer solutions. The partnership will provide Kimberly-Clark with RWDC’s polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) source material, SolonTM, to develop additional products that are marine degradable.
“We’ve seen the growing demand from consumers and governments for companies to provide more sustainable solutions to single-use plastics,” said Liz Metz, Vice President of Kimberly-Clark’s Global Nonwovens business. “Solving for these challenges will take game-changing innovation as well as collaboration with industry-leading partners like RWDC to help speed these new materials to market.”
This new source material for Kimberly-Clark’s personal care products is one of the strategies the company is developing as part of its recently announced sustainability ambitions for 2030 that include a transition away from traditional fossil fuel-based plastics toward more renewable and regenerative materials.
The company is working to launch products featuring this innovation over the next five years, focusing first on product categories that address global demand for more sustainable products.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Kimberly-Clark and play an important role in the future development of its essential products,” said Dr. Daniel Carraway, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of RWDC. “This partnership showcases how industry leaders can leverage the agility of emerging technologies to deliver real change. Together, we are demonstrating that we can alter the alarming growth trajectory of plastic waste while retaining quality and enabling environmental goals to be met.”
RWDC, based in Athens, Ga. and Singapore, combines deep expertise in PHA properties and applications with the engineering know-how to reach cost-effective industrial scale.
RWDC uses plant-based oils to produce its proprietary PHA, which can be composted in home and industrial composting facilities. Should products or packaging made with PHA find their way into the environment, they biodegrade in soil, fresh water, and marine settings, preventing persistent plastics from accumulating in the environment.
“Kimberly-Clark aims to be a leader in driving innovative solutions that address plastic pollution,” added Metz. “When combining breakthrough innovation with consumer education on the increasing number of organic recycling options, we also provide a way for Kimberly-Clark and its consumers to solve the problem of plastics in the environment together.”
| About RWDC Industries Limited
Based in Singapore and founded in 2015 by Mr. Roland Wee and Dr. Daniel Carraway, RWDC Industries Limited is a biotechnology company that develops innovative and cost-effective biopolymer material solutions, including polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). PHA is fully biodegradable and can be used as a substitute for plastic in a wide range of everyday, single-use consumer goods, from straws to utensils to cups and plates to lids. RWDC supports sustainable practices and encourages responsible choice in plastic waste management, including recycling, to protect our environment and planet.
| About WI Harper Group
WI Harper is a pioneer and leading cross-border venture capital firm investing in early and expansion stage companies globally. With offices in San Francisco, Beijing, and Taipei, the firm actively oversees more than $1 billion in assets under management. Since inception nearly three decades ago, WI Harper has invested in over 400 startups and has successfully experienced more than 100 IPO and M&A exits.
We look for innovative companies and visionary founders in healthcare, technology and sustainability fields where there are high synergies and meaningful value added cross selling opportunities. While our healthcare team is presently honing on bioinformatics and digital biology, our technology team is focused blockchain, big data, analytics, artificial intelligence, AR/VR, IoT, robotics, drones, autonomous driving, as well as digital media and green energy projects.