The federal government is investing $4.2 million in a Quebec-based cellulose nanocrystals company to support the innovation of an eco-friendly alternative product to replace microbeads for the consumer market.
Plastic and silica microbeads had been popular in toiletries for their exfoliating properties that acted as tiny scrubbers. After it was determined that billions of them were washing down household drains and out into waterways from wastewater systems, microbead products were banned in Canada three years ago. This was the first step in an overall single-use plastics ban.
The new funding will go to Anomera Inc., which has created a new class of biodegradable cosmetic powders that replace plastic and silica microbeads.
“The eco-friendly conversion process developed by Anomera is also creating new, high-value market streams for the Canadian forest sector and is resulting in non-traditional partnerships in cosmetics and industrial applications,” federal officials said in a statement.
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Specifically, the new $4.2 million in funding will support the construction of a demonstration-scale facility that will produce 250 tonnes per year of carboxylated-cellulose nanocrystals and bring its cosmetics ingredients and industrial products to market, announced Natural Resources Canada.
Cellulose nanocrystals are cellulose-based nanoparticles that can be extracted by acid hydrolysis from a wide variety of natural source materials such as trees, annual plants, tunicates, algae and bacteria.
“Our initiative to replace plastic microbeads worldwide with Forest Stewardship Council-harvested Canadian forest products is truly redefining the future of cellulose,” says Anomera CEO Howard Fields. “As we move into the industrial markets, there will soon be tens of thousands of tonnes of demand for the Canadian-sourced cellulose nanocrystals,” he added.
Anomera’s ChromaPur line has ingredients that are unique for the personal care and cosmetics market. The company said it converts cellulose harvested from Canada’s sustainably managed Boreal Forest into high-value, biodegradable, environmentally friendly replacements for the cosmetic and skin-care industries.