Where We Are Investing Now: Life-Altering Alternative Materials
Materials, both those derived from nature and human-created, are essential to products, packaging, technology, and transportation. Modern life isn’t possible without them.
Sadly, though, most of them are not healthy for us and many are horrible for the environment. Even materials originally from nature are so altered by modern production and manufacturing processes that they bear little resemblance to their origins. Extensive research reveals the harmful effects of these fundamental substances.
As a case in point: The textile industry is among the most environmentally harmful, contributing to more than 35% of the world’s microplastics and is projected to take up a quarter of the global carbon budget by 2050. Textile companies are also notorious for their unethical animal welfare practices. Even replacements for animal products, like faux fur, are problematic; while they may be more directly humane, being petroleum-based they only worsen environmental impacts. Government and consumers are fed up. Multiple suits challenge misleading sustainability claims of fashion houses. We see a new strong demand from consumers for more sustainable, socially conscious, and animal-friendly fashion options.
The pressure for dramatic changes exists not only in clothing, but in automotives, aircraft, building materials, and dozens of other markets.
But, among them, textile production stands out, so this is where we will concentrate our investment efforts this year. We predict that textiles will undergo a trajectory similar to that of the recently-exploded alternative protein industry. A whole new generation of materials will emerge from bioreactor and enzyme science to replace the current generation. But it won’t be easy.
Therefore, at Joyance, we plan to only invest in companies that are differentiated by their proven deep science and exceptional go-to-market strategy. Startups that can reach parity on price and experience of current materials (or, ideally, improve upon them) while neutralizing the ethical and environmental evils of traditional textiles and leather. We have already invested in two such companies — Biofluff (100% plant-based, biodegradable, cruelty-free fur) and Faircraft (lab-grown sustainable leather) and we expect to be active here in 2023.
Across the span of alternative materials, we will only invest when:
- The production process is truly eco-friendly with a neutral/negative carbon footprint (e.g., the use of algae or CO2 as feedstock).
- The product fits in brands’ supply chains easily and matches or surpasses on quality, and has a clear path to reach price parity with current products
- There is a clear end-of-life treatment and opportunity for recycling, with a scalable solution that easily fits into the existing supply chains.
We are also interested in new scientific ways to replace pernicious additives, preservatives, and other ingredients rife in foods, cleaners, and other commonly used products.
Here, we have already invested in two alternative ingredients companies, CurieCo and RubyBio, taking different paths to generating alternative consumer compounds that do their job, but don’t hurt either us or the environment.
Consumers are now willing to pay a premium for animal-free, sustainable alternatives to traditional materials and additives, creating an exceptional opportunity for innovative startups to lead worldwide, household-name industries into a new environmentally-aware era.
If you are creating alternatives to traditional materials and ingredients, we want to hear from you! Please feel free to reach out.