Quiksilver at the start of the wave for Uluu plastic alternative made of seaweed

Quiksilver at the start of the wave for Uluu plastic alternative made of seaweed

The Quiksilver 'Made with Uluu' wax combs may be small, but the Perth startup developing the technology believes it is the first step towards replacing plastics at scale.

Perth-based startup Uluu has got its foot in the door with one of the world's leading surfwear companies to showcase its compostable polymers made of seaweed that do not release any microplastics into the environment.

Backed by the CSIRO's deep-tech investment arm Main Sequence Ventures and many other environmentally-conscious investors including Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, Uluu has reached a deal with Quiksilver for its non-plastic but plastic-like wax combs to be included with boardshorts.

The launch may be small but it is the first commercial product created by Uluu, and follows two years of research developing a process to turn farmed seaweed into a plastic alternative; a mission that was aided in late 2022 by an $8 million seed round.

The announcement comes as the world faces a plastics crisis, with plastic waste generation doubling over the last two decades, and set to triple again by 2060. 

Uluu claims its materials - based on compostable polymers polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) - are capable of replacing plastics at scale while tackling global warming and restoring the health of our oceans.

Co-founder and co-chief executive Dr Julia Reisser says the wax combs will be a gift with the purchase of the Quiksilver boardshorts.

"They’re small, limited items, yet super meaningful,” she says. “They represent our first step towards replacing plastic with materials that are good for the world.

"Having a plastic-like natural material that’s durable, yet recyclable and compostable, is incredibly exciting. It opens up a range of new possibilities in circular business models across many industries.”

Uluu uses a fermentation process, similar to brewing beer, which allows the company to maintain a clean production process. The PHAs created can mimic the durability of plastic but have the added benefit of being biodegradable and free from fossil fuels.

Uluu co-founder and co-chief executive Michael Kingsbury says the wax combs are the first step in the company’s relationship with Quiksilver.   

"This release celebrates our multi-year agreement with this iconic Australian brand,” he says

“We’re now focused on working alongside Quiksilver to develop and commercialise ‘Made with Uluu’ apparel that’s natural and good for the environment, yet performs just as well as plastic textiles made from fossil fuels.”

Quiksilver brand director Andy Norling says Uluu aims to replace polyester clothing without compromising on performance.   

“It’s inspiring work towards ending the outdoor industry’s reliance on fossil fuels,” he says.

“It’s stopping the release of persistent microplastics while apparel is being used and, ultimately, at the end of its life.”   

The ‘Made with Uluu’ wax comb is being offered by Quiksilver with every purchase of its Made Better Boardshort.

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