Japanese producer gains algal sustainability standard
A Japanese microalgae producer has become the first in the world to attain certification to the new ASC-MSC Seaweed (Algae) Standard.
euglena Co produces microalgae for applications ranging from health food and cosmetics to biofuels on Ishigaki island in Okinawa. The company mainly produces two species of microalgae, Euglena and Chlorella, at its on-shore production facility in Ishigaki.
It was initially founded after its CEO, Mitsuru Izumo, visited Bangladesh and witnessed first-hand the need to fight malnutrition. After being introduced to the nutritional value of the microalgae Euglena, many years of research and development followed before a method of large-scale production was established and the company started the first commercial production in the world in 2005.
Many of the company’s products make use of the nutritional content of Euglena, with a variety of health supplements, food, and drink, as well as cosmetics. But on top of the healthcare products and biofuels, the microalgae produced at the newly-certified farm could have many other applications, including as an environmentally-friendly feed for both aquaculture and agriculture. Its high carbon capture capability may also render it useful in green technology.
As well as selling a number of health food and cosmetics, euglena is researching the use of oil extracted from the microalgae as jet and diesel fuel, with plans for producing and supplying them for practical use in commercial aviation and public transport, demonstrating the many and varied uses of algae products.
“The innovative use of seaweed and microalgae has huge potential to contribute to food security, a healthy ocean and the achievement of several of the Sustainable Development Goals more broadly,” said Rupert Howes, CEO of the MSC. “I congratulate euglena Co on becoming the first entity in the world to achieve ASC-MSC certification and very much hope this is just the beginning of a widespread engagement by the sector.”
“Japan is surrounded by resourceful seas with high mineral contents and abundant seaweeds and it is vital that these resources are used responsibly. We wish to encourage and support other seaweed and algae related companies towards the MSC-ASC Standard. euglena Co. is committed to further develop our environmentally and socially responsible activities to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” added Izumo.
The FAO estimates that the seaweeds and other algae harvested every year have a total value of $5.65 billion.