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Ocean-based plastic replacement attracts star investors

Melissa Sheil
Melissa Sheil
// // WA based startup ULUU says seaweed is the future of plastics and have rallied some big names, including Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker, to help their mission develop...

Celebrities are putting their money where their mouth is, with several big names contributing to the development of ULUU, a revolutionary company that aims to replace polluting plastics with a natural seaweed-based alternative.

The Australian company has secured a impressive $8.6 million in seed round investments from a variety of sparkling sources, including supermodel and philanthropist Karlie Kloss, Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker and a wealth of arts and music backstage big hitters like Festival Republic and Future Classic via deep tech investors Main Sequence.

The funding marks a major milestone in bringing ULUU’s dream of implementing their compostable, renewable polymer into fruition for everyday use in clothing, packaging and more.

Marine scientist and ULUU co-founder Dr Julia Reisser says most people don’t realise the ubiquity of damaging plastics in their everyday life and its extreme detriment to the planet. 

Ocean-based plastic replacement attracts star investors
Julia Reisser inspects the ULUU fermentation vat. Photo supplied.

“Today’s plastic problem reaches far beyond single-use water bottles and straws,” she said.

“From the clothes we wear, through to the beauty products we use and the cars we drive — it’s everywhere, and our planet is suffering as a result.

“At ULUU, we’ve discovered a way to create a versatile range of natural polymers called PHAs that can mimic the durability of plastic, but have the added benefit of being biodegradable and compostable.”

The process involves using seaweed from renewable farms and fermenting it (in a process similar to brewing beer) into a malleable polymer, resulting in a waste free production that also helpfully assists clean up the acidity and eutrophication (over nutrient-richness) of the ocean.

Perils of plastics pollution

In the wake of the harrowing statistics revealed by the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference and recent studies stating the world has doubled its plastic output in the past two decades, such innovations can’t come quicker.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development more than 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic waste is generated globally, with the bulk of it ending up in landfill, incinerated or leaking into the environment.

Less than 9% is successfully recycled.

Though 20 countries have already pledged to end plastic pollution by 2040, many like Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker feel everyone should be stepping up to contribute their bit in the fight against plastics pollution and climate change.

We’ve had many conversations as a band about how we can reduce our carbon footprint and there is so much more we can be doing, both personally and collectively. I’m really excited to be supporting ULUU because I believe that they are bringing sustainable solutions to global problems and if I can help by using our platform to spread awareness about what they are doing, then I think we can implement some really positive changes.

Kevin Parker, Tame Impala.

Fellow ULUU co-founder Michael Kingsbury hopes the attachment of influential voices to the company will assist in promoting its environmentally-friendly message to the forefront of cultural and artistic moments and inspire other industries to get on board.

“In order to make a real change in this world, we need powerful voices for good,” he said.

“We are humbled to have their support and look forward to combining our expertise and public reach to make a difference in addressing this planetary problem. 

“Together, we’re helping bring the world into a post-plastic era.”

The ULUU team are currently based at the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre in Western Australia, where research and development funded by the seed round will continue.

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Melissa Sheil

Melissa Sheil

Melissa is a journalist, currently based in Europe. She has experience writing about the Australian music scene, parenting and real estate.
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