Uluu’s Sustainable Business Model: Harnessing the Power of Seaweed to Combat Plastic Waste

By Sophia Francise

July 5, 2023

Uluu, an Australian-based start-up, has come up with a biodegradable alternative that could help with combating plastic waste. 

The company uses naturally farmed seaweed, seawater and saltwater microbes, which are molded into pellets that can later be turned into any form of plastic

The material is entirely recyclable and biodegradable in natural environments and can be used across various industries including cosmetics, fabrics and packaging. 

Seaweed Farming and the Prouction Process

The company utilizes farmed seaweed rather than terrestial crops or waste as a carbon source to produce ULUU.

According to ULUU, doing so provides economic advantages and the unique potential to scale enough carbon to decouple our polymer economy from fossil fuels.

Their product, a compostable polymer, called polhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), is produced through fermentation process that is similar to brewing beer.

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The fermentation is a clean production process that enables the company to keep its production process clean. 

The raw materials used are seaweed sugars, sea water and salt water microbes and the end product has the same durability similar as plastic, but is biodegradable and compostable.

The Sory Behind ULUU 

Uluu was founded by Julia Reisser with the aim of producing a versatile range of safe, natural polymers that could replace plastics. 

In an interview with TechCrunch, Dr. Julia Reisser, who co-founded ULUU with Michael Kingsbury, mentioned her extensive experience with plastics. 

She tracked microplastic pollution in Australian waters while pursuing her PhD, then in 2019 while researching how entrepreneurs are tackling plastic pollution at Australian entrepreneur Andrew Forrest’s philanthropic organization Minderoo Foundation, she came up with the concept for ULUU.

Dr. Reisser investigated alternatives to making plastics from fossil fuels but discovered that those generated from corn or sugar cane (from which PHAs can also be made) have negative environmental effects.

The company was founded in 2020 and raised $1.8 million the following year in investment. 

Furthermore, it revealed $8.6 million AUD (or around $5.3 million USD) in startup investment in November 2022.1

The investment was aimed for product development and engineering R&D in order to scale the production of PHAs. 

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ULUU wants to begin scaling up and testing things at its pilot plant location within the next 12 months. 

References

  1. ULUU, ‘ULUU closes $8.6M seed round with some pretty special investors’, 16 November 2022, https://www.uluu.com.au/2022/11/16/uluu-closes-8-6m-seed-round-with-some-pretty-special-investors/[]
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