LOLIWARE Interview: The Future of Decarbonisation and Sustainable Materials

April 4, 2023

LOLIWARE Inc is a materials tech company, based in US, focused on replacing single-use plastics with seaweed-derived alternatives. LOLIWARE’s SEA Technology®, (Seaweed-derived, Emission-avoiding, Alternatives to plastic) uses regenerative resins derived from seaweed, which are currently being applied to single-use items and packaging such as straws, cold cups, utensils, and films.

We caught up with Victoria Piunova, CTO, and Sea Briganti, Founder and CEO, to get their opinion on the future of decarboisation and sustainable materials.

With polymers, fabrics, metals, and other materials accounting for nearly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the materials sector must radically decarbonise. In your opinion, which actors are leading the way?

The push towards decarbonisation in the materials industry involves various players, each contributing to the overall decarbonisation efforts. While research institutions are primarily focused on the early-stage development of sustainable materials and chemical recycling, scalability and economic feasibility are often not prioritized in academic settings.

Innovative startups are leading the charge in developing materials with lower or virtually zero environmental impact, such as mycelium-based plastic substitutes and synthetic fibre substitutes (Ecovative, MycoWorks, BoltThreads), algae-based alternatives (LOLIWARE, NotPLA, Sway), tree-based fibres (Nanollose, Paptic, TreeToTextile), and plant-based fibres (Circular Systems, Orange Fiber). Additionally, these startups are driving process innovation and replacing energy-intensive and GHG-generating processes with cleaner alternatives. For example, some companies produce cement via direct carbon dioxide capture (Carbon Cure, Calera, Solidia Technologies), while others use enzyme-driven plastic recycling methods (Carbios, BioCellection, Genecis).

Governments also play a pivotal role in driving the shift to low-carbon materials through policies such as carbon pricing, renewable energy mandates, and green procurement requirements.

How are new materials and technologies helping to decarbonise the manufacturing of packaging and consumer goods? Which solutions are viable right now, and which long-term vision solutions should brands, converters, and mills invest in?

Novel materials, especially technologies, are crucial in reducing the massive carbon footprint associated with packaging and consumer goods production. One of the most promising approaches to reduce the negative impact of these industries is to use bio-renewable, low-carbon or carbon-negative materials, as well as recycled materials aiming to replace petroleum-derived plastics and virgin paper products.

Novel manufacturing techniques, such as additive manufacturing, 3D printing and continuous manufacturing, show promise in reducing waste generation, manufacturing steps and energy loss associated with batch process inefficiencies. Implementing data analytics and virtual models of objects or systems can reduce the experimental budget and enable optimization of production processes, thus reducing the need for physical prototypes.

All new developments should follow the main principles of green chemistry, which include optimizing for reduced waste generation, atom economy, energy efficiency, safer chemicals and end-of-life scenarios. It is essential that materials innovation and the development of novel processes enabling circular economy solutions to become the investment focus for key stakeholders in the packaging and consumer goods industry.

You’ll be joining us for the summit in London in May. What topics on the agenda are you most looking forward to hearing, and are there any connections you want to make from a networking perspective? 

Victoria: I’m excited to hear about the latest developments and innovations in functional materials and next-generation textiles and connecting with industry leaders and innovators.

Sea: I’m looking forward to meeting other packaging innovators who are also working with AI for new materials discovery and meeting new corporate partners interested in partnering with LOLIWARE to bring seaweed materials into the mainstream.

Victoria will join the panel ‘Net Zero Strategies: Materials Innovation Aiding the Race to Decarbonisation’ along with leaders from MCKINSEY & COMPANY, SMURFIT KAPPA, LANZATECH AND DOW.