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BMW Forces of Nature Series: Cascadia Seaweed

Did you know experts estimate that 10% of the global food mass could come from seaweed within the next twenty years? This may be a surprising fact to you, but for BMW's next Forces of Nature innovator, it is a likely reality.

As BMW pursues their mission of being the world's most sustainable automotive manufacturer through both development and supply chain innovation, they have set out to find and showcase similar sustainable endeavors globally through a new and exciting project. Continuing the showcase of sustainability trailblazers, the third episode of our Forces of Nature series features Cascadia Seaweed, a company on the brink of becoming the largest North American provider of ocean-grown seaweed. Better yet, they are established locally in Sidney on Vancouver Island.

For this episode of Forces of Nature, we meet Mike Williamson, Chief Executive Officer of the climate action company. After a long career in the Navy, Williamson began to rethink his relationship with the sea, searching for a purpose and a desire for fairness and helping others. Eventually, his search brought him back to the water, as he began his work with Cascadia Seaweed.

The corporation is on a mission to build a profitable and scalable business that enhances the natural environment, supports coastal communities, and produces the most sustainable seaweed-based products. According to Williamson, seaweed farming provides so many more benefits than providing a tasty, sustainable snack. As a regenerative crop requiring only the sea and sunlight to grow, cultivated seaweed provides a multitude of services within the ecosystem, and is a vital link in the ocean's nutrient chain.

"We are in the early stages of valuing these services," said Williamson, "which includes carbon capture, nitrogen assimilation, ocean acidification and habitat improvement, and other forms of conservation and restoration."

Cascadia Seaweed works alongside ten different First Nations communities to grows local seaweed from seed on low-impact farms in the ocean, drawing on traditional knowledge and harvesting techniques to ensure equitability. This seaweed is then converted into human food under their brand, Kove Ocean Foods. An agrifeed product is also in development, aimed at improving animal health, increasing feed conversion, and diversifying feed supply to help to reduce pressure on arable land, and reduce enteric methane emissions produced by cows, sheep and goats.

When considering experts predictions for the growing importance of seaweed for global food mass, Williamson agreed.

"That is a big number," he said, "We are part of it and want to help get the word out."

Just like seaweed, BMW's manufacturing can contribute to a sustainable world through supply chain innovation as we continue to evaluate the link between its past and future. BMW places great value on ensuring that raw materials are not only environmentally sourced but socially and ethically sourced too.

Click here to learn more about Cascadia Seaweed as well as BMW's mission towards a future of clean energy.

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