“It makes people feel good because they’re doing something good for the environment,” she said. “They’re buying into the mission.”
They’ve even had some success getting endorsements from celebrities including pop musicians Sheryl Crow and Adam Levine.
New campus coming
That marketing success is partly what attracted the attention of the incubator, which was founded in 2011 with a $1 million investment from the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency and Department of Water and Power.
The non-profit, which last year received a $250,000 grant from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, rents space to tenants that’s much below market rate.
The incubator is the first part of the city’s CleanTech Corridor initiative for downtown. The second part will be a new campus, scheduled to break ground in June.
The 60,000-square-foot campus in the Arts District is expected to open at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. The Economic Development Administration last year gave the city of Los Angeles $2.1 million to build the site.
Some of the incubator’s portfolio companies have been getting traction. Electric vehicle-charging station operator 350Green said May 2 that it has been acquired by Miami Beach, Fla., company Car Charging Group Inc. for $5.2 million. That was the first acquisition to come out of the incubator.
The companies have received a total of $6 million to $8 million from investors since the incubator launched, Anderson said.
Repurpose hopes to seek additional funding as bioplastics catch on with consumers.
Of course, even though people can compost Repurpose’s products, that doesn’t mean they will, said Susan Collins, president of the Container Recycling Institute in Culver City.
Most households don’t have backyard composting bins and only about 180 municipalities offer composting services. Los Angeles is not one of them.
Still, Gropper argues, the cups and utensils have a smaller environmental impact than the alternatives, even if composting is unavailable.
“If you can compost, that’s amazing. But if you can’t, you’re still buying a much greener product,” she said.