A Q&A with Andy and Pete of Loamist
Global challenges across climate change, ecosystem degradation, and increased demand for food and energy has become an impetus for rethinking how we produce and consume finite resources. This trend towards circular systems and sustainability has given rise to the bioeconomy. Simply put, how can we reuse and recycle biomass (what might even be considered waste) for applications across the production of goods, services, and/or energy.
Andy Miller and Pete Christensen, co-founders of Shared Future Fund portfolio company Loamist have been thinking about this for quite some time. They came together almost one year ago to figure out how to make waste biomass truly accessible. What they saw across climate tech companies hoping to unlock innovation, was real supply-chain risk when it came to sourcing and securing biomass for their inputs.
Fresh off the heels of their funding announcement and product launch covered by Axios, we sat down with the both of them to better understand their motivations for building a digital platform to help service this emerging market.
What got you both so personally motivated to be working within the bioeconomy?
Pete and I are both lifelong students of biology and nature, and we independently became interested in enabling the circular economy about five years ago. We didn’t know it then, but we’d come to learn that the bioeconomy and leveraging the exquisitely efficient work of nature was the missing key to our shared goals and interests.
Five years ago, I was leading R&D at a sustainable menstrual care company and researching circular, biodegradable, and recyclable materials. Meanwhile, Pete was inventing novel recyclable plastics. When we first met, we immediately bonded over our shared passion for the circular economy. Motivating this was a love for nature and a desire to protect people and the planet while ensuring economic growth and abundance.
Fast forward to 2023, we began collaborating full-time and knew we wanted to make an impact on the circular economy. Pulling together our independent, lifelong interests and connection with nature and biology was where we found the key. As it turns out, biomass was/is the great untapped resource to enable the circular economy. That’s when we knew we were all in on the bioeconomy.
Given biomass feedstocks are so critical to so many categories within decarbonization, what are the myriad of issues surrounding biomass acquisition?
Biomass is widely abundant, but it is not accessible. Several public reports have quantified that there are abundant stocks of biomass— on paper. But for a customer interested in building a sustainable aviation fuel plant or a biomass burial company, there is no Amazon for biomass, no single source to understand where it is let alone procure it.
This uncertainty translates into project finance feedstock risk. Mitigating this risk is a big impediment to projects, limiting how quickly the bioeconomy can grow. Essentially, before you can get a project financed, you first have to spend an enormous amount of time and money with consultants to manually create feedstock assessments. After that, new projects have to build internal supply chain teams to manually build relationships and secure long term offtake agreements with suppliers. All of this has to be completed before a bank will write a check. It can take years.
A major catalyst to the bioeconomy would be a way to radically reduce uncertainty and risk of feedstocks. This is where we come into play, acting as a bridge in the biomass supply chain and filling in data gaps with innovative software.
What gives you confidence that this market is big enough and ripe for innovation?
Several large markets are emerging, propelled by massive government tailwinds that are set to outstrip supply of waste biomass. Coupled with government initiatives like the IRA, demand for renewable diesel (RD), sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and green hydrogen (H2) are set to skyrocket over the next 20 years driving demand for 10B tons of waste biomass to achieve target production. These scaling markets share the need for reliable, bankable, auditable sources of clean carbon feedstocks. Anecdotally, we have heard that prices of waste biomass are already beginning to increase in Brazil, a trend we expect to see replicated here in the United States. It will be akin to the price movement on used cooking oil five years ago. You used to have to pay to dispose of it, and now it is $80 / ton.
What truly gives us confidence, however, is our customers. Our customers are cleantech companies. They are innovators bringing new ideas to market. At Loamist, our mission is to enable the innovators.