Bast Fibre Technologies Inc. (BFTi), a natural fiber engineering firm focused on the nonwovens industry, announces the closing of a $4.5 million CAD equity financing. The investment, which was led by the Lightburn group and Natural Products Canada (NPC), includes significant participation from existing investors and from new individual investors.

“Since our founding in 2016, BFTi has been driven to perfect our natural fiber technology and establish a robust IP suite,” says Noel Hall, chairman and CEO of BFTi. “The company is now ready to take the next step and begin the commercial phase of our growth. This financing will allow us to complete trial work with our customers, file additional IP and finish the build-out of a dedicated bast fiber processing facility. BFTi is well placed to meet the sustained demand for disinfecting wipes created by the Covid-19 pandemic, at a time when new legislation forthcoming in multiple jurisdictions requires a shift from synthetic to natural fibers.”

Nonwovens are high-tech engineered fabrics made from a variety of different fibers and are used in both consumer and industrial applications. Nonwoven products are ubiquitous in daily life and include absorbent hygiene products, disinfectant cleaning wipes, personal care wipes and makeup removers. Most of the fibers used in the nonwovens industry today are either synthetic or semi-synthetic and are major contributors to landfills and ocean microplastic contamination. By contrast, BFTi’s fibers are completely natural, plastic free, fully compostable, sourced from an annually renewable crop, and provide a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, BFTi’s proprietary fibers offer enhanced performance characteristics when compared with traditional synthetic and semi-synthetic fibers.

“Our investment is crucial to furthering BFTi’s mission to displace synthetic and semi-synthetic fibers in the nonwovens industry, and to help create single-use products that are both environmentally and economically sustainable,” says Shelley King, CEO of NPC. “Most of the hemp grown in Canada today is used for CBD production or as a seed crop for food. BFTi will play an important role in building long-term demand for hemp straw and realizing the vision of whole hemp plant utilization.”

In conjunction with the closing of the financing Ben Lightburn, an experienced CEO and natural products entrepreneur, has joined the BFTi Board of Directors. Lightburn will help the company transition to becoming a commercial-stage enterprise. “I am excited to join the board of BFTi and to contribute to the company’s next phase of growth,” says Lightburn. “There is no doubt that consumers are driving theshift towards natural products and that with impending new regulations limiting the use of synthetic materials the nonwovens industry is certainly feeling the pressure to adopt more sustainable fibers in its supply chain.”