Bringing Climate Positive Products to Scale
In the sustainability business it’s not a lack of smart ideas or innovative product that stalls promising start-ups from achieving next level success. Rather, the problem is a matter of volume. Jane Palmer, a self-described “serial entrepreneur” for 20 years, has faced this problem head on. After her previous business, a dye house specializing in plant-based products attained success but struggled in areas related to supply, Palmer developed her own bio-based pigment that could scale, and “make an impact in the industry,” said Palmer in a presentation held during the virtual Catalyst Transformers denim event earlier this month.
Her new venture, Nature Coatings, Inc., in Los Angeles, transforms wood waste, sourced from sustainable FSC certified forests, into high performance black pigment that Palmer says is a direct replacement for petroleum carbon black commonly used in a wide variety of applications from phone cases to textiles.
With scale-ability a key attribute, “the goal is to make it easy for mills to adopt,” said Palmer, who added that for new products to make headway in today’s market they must be cost competitive, and perform as well or better that what is currently available. Palmer highlights that her products are “designed for industry,” in that they are compatible with existing equipment and water-based processes in established supply chains.
“We have refined the pigment manufacturing process and our new facility can supply substantial volume with high quality color,” said Palmer, who explained that she did a thousand formulations to get multiple formulas that could work across different applications.
Nature Coatings’ manufacturing process is a closed-loop and circular system. With regulatory standards increasing worldwide seemingly every day, Palmer stressed that Nature Coatings pigment is a head of regulations being forecast for the future.
The first product out of the gate for the company was screen printing ink, but garments using Nature Coatings ink are now commercialized. New partners include Boyish Jeans and AGI mills, with pigments currently being tested with major mills located globally, according to Palmer.
Getting rid of petroleum-based products is a driving force in sustainability innovation, but in order to make an impact, according to Palmer, and others, businesses have to figure out how to bring these climate-positive products to scale.