This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest in our Planet” – with a call for “unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, our livelihoods.” Together, everyone from consumers to businesses to policymakers must prioritize our planet as the precious and finite life-giving resource that it is.
Businesses can ask themselves two questions:
- In what ways are we investing in our planet?
- What can we do to enable others to invest in our planet?
As society grows more aware of the damage that human evolution has caused to nature, more people recognize that it’s no longer enough to just “do no harm.” Businesses must go further, to build regenerative systems and radically change how they make decisions about their economic growth. We must include the environmental and social costs of those decisions and instead focus on driving sustainable growth. It was nearly 13 years ago when University of Arizona Professor Guy McPherson famously said, “If you think the economy is more important than the environment, try holding your breath while counting your money.”
What does investing in the planet look like in practice?
At Amyris, we’re delivering on our plan to create a net positive impact for people and our planet. There are a number of approaches, both big and small, that we believe can help establish a net positive impact for the planet and people. Below are a few ways that Amyris strives to make it easier for consumers to make more net positive choices in their daily lives.
Transforming how we manufacture
Long gone are the days when we needed to manufacture everything out of Earth’s rare natural resources. Thanks to innovations in biotechnology and fermentation, we’ve reached a point where we can manufacture just about everything from a simple recipe of engineered yeast and sustainably-sourced sugarcane. With Amyris’ fermentation-based manufacturing, we can produce virtually any molecule that exists in nature and scale it commercially. Not only has this offered a more sustainable manufacturing approach and highly sustainable end products, but it has also yielded higher quality ingredients than what we could get by harvesting traditional botanical or animal sources directly. With the scale that bio-based processes enable, companies across all industries and applications can leverage biology to achieve better products for end users, and with significant cost and production efficiencies, all while embodying a planet-first mindset.
Enabling sustainable consumption
In earlier years, consumers were often faced with a challenge when purchasing many sustainable products – it meant they had to sacrifice product quality or performance, or pay a higher price. Today, consumers don’t have to make those compromises. With fermentation-based technology, Amyris has removed those tradeoffs with its proprietary Lab-to-Market™ technology platform.
As a result, we have seen time and again that consumers can and do make better choices that ultimately benefit the planet. Amyris has successfully brought a host of consumer brands and products to market at commercial scale across beauty, personal care, and health and wellness. With each new product or brand launch, sales of our fermentation-produced products take off immediately and grow exponentially – causing immediate market disruption for incumbent market players who are still using traditional manufacturing methods that rely on petrochemicals or plant and animal sources.
In only a few years, Amyris has disrupted multiple markets with effective and sustainable products in our own consumer brands: skincare – Biossance; baby and personal care – Pipette; haircare – JVN Hair; color cosmetics – Rose Inc.; and natural sugar substitute – Purecane. We see a future where every industry can follow suit and truly enable society to consume sustainably across all aspects of their lives, with efficacious and sustainable ingredients made with fermentation.
Holding ourselves and each other accountable
Something we can all do in the race for net positive is to look at how we are measuring our progress toward a more sustainable future. We are starting to see this at the regulatory level, with the SEC’s latest proposal for mandating U.S. corporate disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions, and the recent growing interest in ESG reporting for investment decision making. While there is much to be done at the corporate and policy level to hold organizations accountable for their environmental and social impact, this progress is promising, and momentum is not likely to slow.
On a consumer level, we are also seeing a growing demand from consumers who want to understand how their products were made, where the ingredients were sourced, and how manufacturers are prioritizing ethical and sustainable production. The role of consumers in researching products and demanding more from the companies they buy from will only further shift the tides towards global sustainability goals.
As we continue through April, celebrating Earth Month and all of earth’s natural beauty, we are encouraged by increased interest and attention from partners and consumers alike to make more progress this journey toward net positive. Since our founding nearly two decades ago, Amyris has remained committed to transforming major industries’ reliance on manufacturing with old chemistry techniques. The move is towards fermentation – a lower cost, cleaner and sustainable approach.