Canadian natural fiber specialist Bast Fiber Technologies Inc. (BFTi) has said it will use part of the recently raised $ 7 million to develop a European manufacturing site as it focuses on accelerating the production of fibers for non-woven products.
U.S. private equity firm Merida Capital Holdings, New York, and existing investors have provided the Series A financing, which the company says will allow it to move the business beyond the R&D phase into commercialization. full of its intellectual property in the processing of natural fibers.
“With this funding under our belt, we can complete the final construction of our manufacturing site in the EU, continue investing in our raw material supply chain and enter into large-scale commercialization,” said the CEO Noel Hall.
“Strong market demand”
âSince our last funding 12 months ago, we now have a large number of customers who use our natural bast fibers on commercial production lines, so it is critical that we invest in manufacturing capacity to meet the high demand. market, âHall said.
BFTi, which develops intellectual property-protected improvements for hemp, flax and other bast fibers, raised $ 3.3 million last year in a sale of shares to angel investor Natural Products Canada (NPC) to fund research and start the production of compostable hemp-based cleaning wipes.
BFTi, based in Victoria, British Columbia, said it is developing a manufacturing process at a factory in Hungary, with the aim of producing compostable disinfectant wipes from fibers of European origin. Hall said the company ultimately intends to source the bast plant material from Canada and the United States to produce wipes at facilities in North America.
Adjustment for bast fibers
Bast fibers (in hemp, often referred to as “technical” fibers) grow on the outside of the stems of the bast plant group. Fibers carry nutrients and support plant structure during plant growth, but are also naturally absorbent yet strong when wet, a desired characteristic in nonwoven products such as cleaning wipes, diapers, Makeup remover pads and hospital gowns and masks – a global industry estimate of $ 50 billion.
Most of the current nonwoven products are either synthetic or semi-synthetic and therefore a major contributor to landfill and microplastic contamination. In contrast, nonwovens made from bast fibers are plastic-free, compostable and come from renewable crops that allow net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
âIn the single-use segment alone, nearly six million tonnes of plastic fibers are used each year and we will play a key role in reducing the traditional reliance of the nonwoven industry on synthetic materials,â said said BFT President Jim Posa.
Developments in plastic waste legislation continue to disrupt the nonwoven industry, with many global brands pledging to phase out plastic from their products by 2030, BFTi noted in a press release. âThe ongoing debate over whether or not to classify man-made cellulosic fibers in plastics has also generated considerable interest in bast fibers,â the company said.
BFTi said it can target sales of finished nonwoven products to giant global consumer goods manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, as well as major North American outlets such as Walmart and Costco. .