Newlight Technologies Inc., a California-based biotechnology company and manufacturer of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and sportswear giant Nike Inc. have entered into a partnership to explore the use of Newlight's material in new, more sustainable products to be developed by Nike.
PHB, a carbon-negative biomaterial produced by microorganisms from the ocean, is one of the best-known members of the polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) family.
Microbes produce and store PHAs as reserve materials for carbon and energy. PHB is 100 percent renewably sourced and will biodegrade in any environment it ends up in, including the ocean. Newlight has successfully developed technology to produce and market its biopolymer at scale under the brand name AirCarbon.
The material is currently used in fashion applications as a carbon-negative substitute to plastic and leather, including for eyewear, wallets, and bags.
Now, Nike is looking at its potential for use in a variety of applications.
"AirCarbon offers an opportunity to further reduce our impact on the planet," Nike Chief Sustainability Officer Noel Kinder said. "Materials account for 70 percent of Nike's total carbon footprint, and we're accelerating our efforts and exploring new opportunities in this space because, in the race against climate change, we can't wait for solutions, we have to work together to create them."
Newlight CEO Mark Herrema said AirCarbon can be used in a range of forms, including fiber, sheets and solid shapes.
"Our mission is change at scale, and there are few better partners in the world than Nike to help achieve that," Herrema said. "We are excited to explore how AirCarbon can help Nike decarbonize its products and achieve its ambitious carbon-reduction goals."