Plant-based packaging-maker Footprint going public via $1.6 billion SPAC

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Troy Swope, a co-founder and CEO of Footprint

Photo courtesy Footprint

Footprint, an Arizona-based materials science technology company known for its plant-based packaging, will make its market debut by merging with blank-check firm Gores Holdings VIII. The deal is expected to value Footprint, ranked No. 46 on this year’s CNBC Disruptor 50 list, at $1.6 billion following the SPAC merger’s completion.

SPACs — or special purpose acquisition companies — raise capital from public markets and use that cash to merge with a private company, with the goal of taking the company public within a two-year period. There was an explosion in SPAC deals earlier this year, but there are indications the space is cooling down. Still, valuations have gained as money managers are also increasingly factoring in ESG policies in their investments.

Founded in 2014 by two former Intel engineers, Footprint develops and manufactures alternative solutions to single- and short-term-use plastic. Its sustainable products are designed with the entire product lifecycle in mind, and are made from 100% bio-based, biodegradable, compostable and recyclable fibers. That not only reduces unnecessary waste from entering the environment, but it also reduces exposure to toxic chemicals found in plastic.

“With corporations, regulators and consumers alike increasingly demanding high-quality, sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic, foam and other products, Footprint’s solutions are capitalizing on a growing $315 billion annual market opportunity that is converting to environmentally friendly solutions as quickly as possible,” the companies said in a press release statement.

Footprint says its plant-based fiber bowls, clamshell containers, trays, cups and other consumer packaging products have already eliminated more than 61 million pounds of plastic. They’re in some of the country’s biggest supermarkets, including Walmart, Target, Costco, Whole Foods, Albertsons’ Safeway, Kroger, Fry’s, Aldi, Wegmans and Trader Joe’s.  

And the company is collaborating with major brands, including newly public Sweetgreen, McDonald’s, Kraft Heinz, Tyson Foods, Beyond Meat, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin, Panera Bread and True Food Kitchen.

In July, the company also entered into an agreement with the Phoenix Suns, re-naming the NBA team’s home complex to Footprint Center, while also working with the sports team to eliminate single-use plastic and test new technologies at their facility.

Footprint and the Suns are aiming to get fans involved, from videos talking about sustainability and how to manage their trash on the giant scoreboard during games, to encouraging people to sign up for a climate pledge initiative to cut plastics from their lives. The Suns will also encourage players to take part in the pledge, as well as other entertainers who perform in the arena.

Footprint is expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq in the first half of 2022 under ticker symbol “FOOT.”

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