Guilt-free and Odour-free: French Biotech Fights for Green Cosmetics

Global bioenergies loréal isobutene 1

Global Bioenergies has produced the first batch of its sustainable isobutene, which L’Oréal will use to produce environmentally friendly hairspray and deodorant.

Global Bioenergies has produced the first batch of its sustainable biochemical for L’Oréal. The French biotech hopes to support the shift away from fossil fuels that could change the world. It has taken its first step towards this by sustainably producing condensed isobutene, an important molecule in the petrochemicals industry, with over 15 million tons produced each year for the manufacture of plastic, rubber and fuel. The company, whose market cap stands at €65M, will supply L’Oréal with the molecules as a replacement for CFCs, chlorofluorocarbons, in hairsprays and deodorants.

The molecules were produced as part of the 2016 bio-isobutene project, which received €9M from the French government to set up the first bio-isobutene plant. Marc Delcourt, Founder and CEO of Global Bioenergies described the molecule as the “building block of the chemical industry” at Refresh last year. His company uses synthetic biology to produce isobutene, which is currently extracted from oil.

The company developed a simple process, which takes renewable sources like sugar, crops or forestry waste and converts them into isobutene. The company developed a microorganism that could produce isobutene by “re-coding its software”. Global Bioenergies’ approach, which is based on gas fermentation, has two main advantages: the process can be left running almost continually due to the reduced buildup of toxic liquid in the reactor and a much simpler purification stage.

Global Bioenergies’ simple and robust process for the sustainable production of isobutene.

Global Bioenergies’ technology has caught the attention of some big names.  It started a 5-year collaboration with German car manufacturer, Audi, to produce renewable gasoline and is also working with Sweden‘s biggest fuel company, Preem, to help the country completely stop the use of fossil fuels within the next 30 years.

This is another signal of intent from L’Oréal, which earlier this year formed a consortium with Carbios to use the biotech’s infinitely recyclable bioplastics for the design of its new packaging. More and more, big firms are looking to become more ‘green’, with Coca-Cola and Danone are working with Dutch biotech Avantium to develop sustainable bottles and yoghurt pots and Lego hoping to start making its famous toy blocks out of bioplastics.

With biotechs developing better technology in the renewable materials and energy field, there is real hope that even more big firms will be willing to make the switch.

Images – TibiP /; Global Bioenergies

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