Best of Earth911 Podcast: Algenesis & Blueview Launch the Algae-Based Polyurethane Industry
Algenesis is two companies in one, a biotechnology innovator and footwear maker. Making a new, sustainable material often requires the inventor to prove its utility before big companies will embrace it. Join the conversation for a story of discovery and finding a practical application to prove the value of a plant-based, compostable bioplastic foam. Stephen Mayfield, a professor of Biology at UC San Diego and director of the California Center for Algae Biotechnology, invented Soleic, an algae-based rubbery foam material that can be used in footwear, surfboards, and other products in the place of petroleum-based polyurethane foam. He launched Algenesis, a biotechnology-based materials science company to commercialize Soleic.
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But shoe companies did not come running to use Soleic, which biodegrades completely in sea water and compost piles. Along with Algenisis president Tom Cooke, a footwear and apparel industry veteran who had worked for Reef and Vans, Steve launched Blueview Footwear, maker of the world’s first compostable shoe. Steve and Tom join me today to talk about the evolution of Algenesis and Blueview, as well as the many materials Soleic could replace across a variety of product categories. The companies have also developed compostable, plant-based fabrics and a bioplastic waterproofing technology that biodegrades into organic material in a home compost pile. You can learn more about Blueview Footwear at blueviewfootwear.com and its parent company Algenesis Materials at algenesismaterials.com.
This podcast originally aired on February 20, 2023.