Ahead of Lanzatech’s involvement at Rethinking Materials, we were pleased to speak to their CEO, Jennifer Holmgren to learn more about upcycling carbon and their exciting collaborations with brands such as Unilever and L’Oréal.

Where does LanzaTech focus its attention when it comes to carbon recycling technology?

By recycling carbon to produce materials for consumer goods, we displace fresh fossil carbon and keep it in the ground. This approach helps to create a carbonsmart economy where a consumer will have the choice where the carbon in their goods comes from, improving local air quality and increasing the sustainability of the things we buy. 

A big focus we have is on sustainability and we have worked closely with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials to ensure the sustainability of our processes and facilities. By achieving RSB certification – globally recognized as the most robust approach to sustainability for the bio-based and circular economy – the ethanol plant demonstrates that it is making real, measurable positive impacts. Certification demonstrates compliance with RSB’s robust social and environmental sustainability requirements, while reducing overall climate impact.


“We see a real shift in how consumers, brands and policy makers are thinking about carbon. By recycling carbon and locking carbon into the material cycle, we are enabling a new circular carbon economy.”

– Jennifer Holmgren, CEO, Lanzatech

Can you share more about how you are working with industry leaders including L’Oréal, Mibelle and Unilever to develop an economically viable path for plastics, waste and reducing carbon footprint?

We are working with a number of consumer brands to bring recycled carbon to the market. Our commercial plant in China has produced over 20M gallons of ethanol from recycled steel mill emissions. We see ethanol as an ideal building block that can be further converted to consumer goods. With L’Oréal we are working with Total to convert the ethanol to polyethylene for cosmetic packaging; with Mibelle we are using it directly as a cleaning alcohol and with Unilever is being converted to surfactants for use in laundry capsules.  While today we are making ingredients for many consumer goods, we have a pathway to making the packaging, and as our pathway can convert solid plastic wastes to a synthesis gas stream and ferment it back into ethanol, we can see a future where products are “carbonsmart” inside and out and where the carbon in the packaging is locked into the material cycle!


What successes have you seen from upcycling technology?

We see a real shift in how consumers, brands and policy makers are thinking about carbon. By recycling carbon and locking carbon into the material cycle, we are enabling a new circular carbon economy. LanzaTech’s vision for this concept is where solid wastes that cannot be mechanically recycled are gasified, and the resulting syngas is converted back into chemical building blocks to make new consumer goods, with no change or degradation in final product quality. We have seen increased interest from brands in integrating this concept into their supply chains either from industrial emissions or from integrating chemical recycling of solid wastes. There is an understanding now that chemical recycling enables economically competitive and sustainable production of products with no compromise in quality and that is a real success story for how we manage waste carbon-turning it from a liability to an opportunity.


What role do partnerships play in your mission to bring the circular economy into action?

Partnerships are key in bringing new technology to market. From patient investors, supporters and champions to customers who have the same vision as you. It literally takes a village to get new technology to market and we are fortunate to partner with world leaders who are deeply committed to making positive change and producing products with purpose.


You will be joining us on the panel ‘Side Streams: Circular Solutions Breathing New Life into Waste’. What insights will you be sharing during this session?

Jennifer Holmgren will be speaking about the urgency of climate change and the need to deploy all sustainable solutions in our fight for climate justice. She will focus on the importance of getting innovation to scale and having as many shots on target as possible and not waiting for a single perfect solution. She will also share case studies on how single use carbon can be a thing of the past and how carbon recycling can be integrated into today’s supply chains.


Who are you looking forward to connecting with at the summit, and why?

We are always looking to connect with organizations who want to learn more about carbon recycling and how to integrate this into their supply chains and make “carbonsmart” consumer goods!


Jennifer will join the panel discussion ‘Side Streams: Circular Solutions Breathing New Life into Waste’ at the upcoming Rethinking Materials summit on May 19-20 and will be joined by:

Session Chair:
Mark Durno, Partner, ROCKSTART AGRIFOOD, Denmark
Tato Bigio, Co-Founder and CEO, UBQ MATERIALS, ISRAEL
Daniel MacEachran, Head of Technology Scouting and Open Innovation, BRASKEM, USA
Tony Perrotta, Partner, PA CONSULTING, USA