Biomass solutions company Genera has secured more than $118m (£95m) in new funding for its planned manufacturing facility in Tennessee, US.


Image: Genera’s Earthable line of sustainable agricultural fibre products. Photo: courtesy of Genera Energy.

The funding was providing in an equity investment from WindSail Capital Group. Coppermine Capital and Stairway Capital also participated in the funding round.

WindSail Capital Group managing director Ian Bowles said: “We and our partners are investing in Genera because they are pioneering a solution that will serve both our domestic rural economy and the rapidly growing demand for environmentally friendly packaging in the consumer market.”

Planned to be commissioned in 2020, the facility will be equipped to produce compostable foodservice packaging products such as plates, bowls, and takeaway containers.

The products will be made from locally grown grasses and other agricultural crops such as switchgrass and biomass sorghum.

Genera had leased a former bio-refinery from the University of Tennessee Research Foundation affiliate TennEra for the facility’s development, which will generate 80 jobs.

Genera president and CEO Kelly Tiller said: “With this new investment, we can begin to answer the increasing demand for environmentally conscious solutions with a truly farm-to-table product made in America.

“We’re excited about the new revenue stream we can offer our local farmers. Our Earthable plant-based paper and packaging products really resonate with consumers. We are passionate about delivering sustainability improvements to the marketplace while making positive impacts in rural economies.”

The Genera’s Earthable fibres, which are sustainable alternative to plastics and polystyrene (Styrofoam-type products), are also used to produce a wide array of towel, tissue, cupstock and other paper products.

The firm said in a statement: “Earthable will be the largest fully integrated, domestic solution for ag-based fibre and food-grade packaging in the United States, designed to meet the growing, consumer-driven demands for more eco-friendly products in the food and consumer industries.”

According to the company, the Earthable will become a fully integrated solution that is suitable for producing agricultural-based fibre and food-grade packaging in the US.

Genera intends to expand production capacity at the Vonore facility, upon commissioning. The expansion would also increase employment rate at the site by 50%.