From Health Food to Biofuels: Meet the First Algae Farm to Attain ASC-MSC Certification
January 23, 2019
A Japanese farm whose microalgae products have applications ranging from health food and cosmetics to biofuels has become the first in the world to attain certification to the new ASC-MSC Seaweed (Algae) Standard.
euglena Co. has achieved certification against the standard for its farm producing microalgae on Ishigaki island in Okinawa, Japan, following an audit by Amita, an independent third-party Conformity Assessment Body (CAB). The certification means that euglena Co. are minimising the environmental impacts of their farm, and operating in a way that is beneficial to workers and local communities.
The company mainly produces two species of microalgae, known as Euglena and Chlorella, at its on-shore production facility in Ishigaki, and researches and promotes a number of uses for the micro-organisms containing various kind of nutrients such as vitamins and amino acids.
As well as selling a number of health food and cosmetics, euglena Co. are 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.
“This is an important milestone after a great deal of hard work and close collaboration between ASC and MSC, and I’d like to congratulate euglena Co. on their achievement,” said Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC. “There are some truly exciting applications for seaweed and microalgae, but with production rapidly increasing around the world it is important that the environmental and social impacts are limited. The ASC-MSC standard aims to help ensure that these important products can be harvested in a way that benefits everyone.”
“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.”
“euglena Co. is extremely pleased to receive the world’s first ASC-MSC Seaweed (Algae) certification. We produce Euglena and Chlorella on Ishigaki Island in Okinawa, an island surrounded by beautiful sea and nature, and we hope many people have the opportunity to benefit from these products,” said Mitsuru Izumo, CEO of euglena Co. “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.”
Building on each other’s expertise in standard setting and seafood certification, the ASC and MSC worked together for over two years to develop a standard for environmentally sustainable and socially responsible farming and wild harvest of seaweed and algae.
The standard brings together expertise in sustainable fishing and responsible aquaculture, and is the first joint ASC-MSC standard. Launched in February 2018, it will help to protect marine environments and secure the livelihoods of those who depend on them by recognising and rewarding sustainable and socially responsible seaweed and algae production.
euglena Co. 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.
Much 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.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the seaweeds and other algae harvested every year have a total value of $5.65 billion.