Brewed Protein materials are fibers, films, and other types of materials that are manufactured through fermentation (brewing) of plant-based ingredients.
This new class of material is created using Spiber’s proprietary technology platform that enables customized design and molecular engineering of nature-inspired protein polymers.
These materials can offer alternative solutions to a wide range of conventional animal-based, plant-based and synthetic materials for various purposes, including textiles applications for the apparel industry, which is our first primary focus.
In the early 20th century, humanity embarked on a new era of polymer material development with the invention of petrochemical plastics. People have been synthesizing new polymers and developing new materials ever since, so that today we find ourselves surrounded by synthetic fibers, synthetic resins, synthetic rubber, and other materials born of the union between petroleum and chemistry.
But long before humans became aware of the vast possibilities of polymers, Life on earth had been carrying out trial-and-error experiments for billions of years to design an enormous variety of molecules. Life chose proteins to serve as the structural building blocks that form biomaterials such as skin, nails, or hair that living beings are made of. Over the course of 3.8 billion years, Life has invested an enormous amount of energy in winning the battle for survival by improving the functioning of protein polymers.
Spiber has established the keystone technologies for replicating the process of protein evolution—which requires millions of years in nature—in the laboratory, where it can be achieved in a matter of years or even months. We pursues these research and development initiatives as part of our core endeavor to unlock the potential of these miraculous materials for industrial use in hope to offer one piece of the puzzle needed to accelerate humanity’s shift towards a more sustainable society.
We believe that Brewed Protein materials that have a soft and luxurious touch will serve as a powerful and creative alternative to animal-derived protein materials such as cashmere and wool, with the potential benefit of significantly reduced comparative environmental and animal welfare impacts.
Based on the findings of our critically reviewed comparative LCA study, we believe Brewed Protein production emits fewer GHG emissions, requires less water, and causes 97% less land-use related harm when compared to cashmere production.
Non-biodegradable petrochemical fibers are known to cause micro plastic pollution in soil, oceans, and freshwater, but just because a fiber is bio-based does not mean that it is also biodegradable.
Brewed Protein fibers have been demonstrated to biodegrade in marine environments and Brewed Protein fabrics to completely disintegrate in soil. This means that Brewed Protein fibers that are released into the environment through washing or wear and tear will break down into nutrients and return to the biosphere.
Our first commercial-scale fermentation plant in Thailand began production in 2022, and another plant in the USA is scheduled to begin operations in the near future.
Both the Thailand and USA polymer production plants are strategically located close to agricultural cropland for our key feedstocks (sugarcane in Thailand and corn in the USA) and will be ramping up their scale of production over the coming years.
Processing of polymers into fibers will take place at our in-house spinning facility in Tsuruoka and at other spinning factories owned and operated by third parties.
Spiber uses sugars obtained from agricultural products such as sugarcane and corn as the main feedstock for the production of Brewed Protein materials. We believe it is our responsibility to ensure that these agricultural supply chains are rooted in sustainable practices. Accordingly, in addition to procuring sugar from certified suppliers, we also implement additional sustainable agriculture practices based on regional priorities identified through collaboration with our suppliers and NGOs.
Bonsucro is the leading NGO administrator of Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) in the sugarcane industry. It defines standards for environmental and socioeconomic sustainability relevant to sugarcane growing and processing, and provides sugar mills that adhere to these standards with Bonsucro certification. Spiber is a member of the Bonsucro platform, and all Brewed Protein polymers produced at our Thai Plant are made from Bonsucro-certified sugar.-> Learn more about Bonsucro certification
The Brewed Protein polymer we will be producing in the US in partnership with ADM will be made from corn grown locally in the Midwestern United States. Research has shown that significant soil degradation has occurred due to decades of intensive agriculture in this region, resulting in various environmental issues related to topsoil loss and eutrophication.
To overcome these issues and start restoring the health of the soil used to grow our feedstock, we intend to implement a multi-phase plan of sustainable agriculture practices together with our glucose supplier ADM, agronomists from local NGOs, and corn growers willing to implement regenerative farming practices. The first of these phases includes the sourcing of corn from farmers who implement cover crops. Future phases of our sustainable agriculture plans in the US will include practices to efficiently reduce fertilizer usage and support biodiversity and wildlife.