RWDC and The Footprint Coalition have partnered together to replace one-time use plastics with fully biodegradable materials.RWDC is the leading manufacturer of the world’s first high yield and high purity PHA emulsion coating – a bio-based alternative to plastic, created by feeding used cooking oil to microbes. Founded in 2019 by actor Robert Downey Jr., The Footprint Coalition is an organization that invests in high-growth, technologically advanced, and sustainability-focused companies. In addition, the organization makes charitable grants to non-profits that advance the adoption of environmental technology. WI Harper Group led RWDC’s Series A of $13M in October 2018, and subsequently followed-on to its Series A1 of $22M in April 2019. RWDC closed its Series B stapled round of $150M in March 2020.
The term ‘microplastics’ is widely used to describe plastic particles ranging from 1 nanometer to 5 millimeters in size. They come from a variety of sources, including extremely small plastic pieces used in household products (like microbeads in toothpaste), clothing fibers (like polyester), and large plastic pieces that degrade into smaller fragments (referred to as secondary microplastics).
Microplastics end up in almost all water systems in the world – streams, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Microplastics can accumulate in fish, birds and other marine life. Because they do not break down, the amount in the sea and fish will continue to accumulate, making the problem worse over time, until we manage to reduce the amount of plastic in the sea.
Microplastics can introduce other contaminants to foods. Persistent organic pollutants and other toxins in water can also be attracted to these particles. Once consumed by plankton, these contaminants are passed through the food chain to small fish and eventually to humans. While their impact on human health is currently debated, high volumes of microplastics in rats have been found to cause cancer.
You eat thousands of bits of plastic every year. A recent study in the journal “Environmental Science and Technology” says it’s possible that humans may be consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles a year. With added estimates of how much microplastic might be inhaled, that number is more than 74,000. That amount is roughly translated into eating one plastic credit card per week.
Despite intense, decades-long efforts to effectively recycle plastic, the reality is that overwhelming heaps of plastic and microplastic continue to infiltrate our food systems, water supplies and oceans. More recycling may help, but we ultimately need to replace a large portion of what is manufactured.
PHA is a naturally-occurring material that looks, feels and behaves like regular plastic. It is not a crappy paper straw. But PHA is biovanescent– it is completely marine biodegradable and does not break down into microplastics. And importantly, PHA is a ‘drop in replacement’ to existing plastic manufacturing processes, and is cost effective.
| 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.