Groundbreaking innovative and environmentally friendly companies

The Agilyx recycling plant
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
24 December 2021

This content is part of’s Groundbreaker series, celebrating the creators and innovators at the forefront of radical change. From the champions of trailblazing greentech to new-gen space engineers, these are the bold new thinkers determined to make the world a better, greener and fairer place. Join us for a closer look at the beating entrepreneurial heart of Virgin and its partner companies – where risk-taking reigns supreme. 

As consumers become more aware of their impact on the environment, there is a pressure on businesses to become more environmentally friendly. Many businesses have stepped up in recent years to reduce their impact on the planet. And others have been founded specifically to solve a sustainability challenge. Here are some companies that have come up with innovative solutions that will make the world more sustainable.


Agilyx is on a mission to solve the plastic problem. Currently only 10% of plastics are recycled globally. Agilyx is committed to changing that, with better ways to manage plastic waste that will limit its impact on the planet and turn used plastic back into useful products.

Impressed by its mission, Virgin Group was one of Agilyx’s first investors. The company is using innovative methods to recycle plastics and reduce their impact on the planet.

Check out Holly Branson’s interview with Agilyx CEO Tim Stedman to learn more about their mission.


Avani is an Indonesian company that makes bio-cassava bags as an alternative to plastic carrier bags. Virgin Megastore has now replaced all its plastic shopping bags with Avani’s alternative at its UAE stores.

The bags are 100% natural, biodegradable, compostable, recyclable and certified non-toxic to humans and animals. They were developed as the result of extensive research and are made from the cassava plant, a woody shrub native to South America.

BMR Energy

BMR Energy is working to bring clean and affordable energy to Latin America and the Caribbean. The Virgin Group purchased BMR Energy in 2016 to support its efforts to build a greener, stronger and more resilient Caribbean.

BMR’s current projects include a green solar project in Guatemala, a wind project in Jamaica, a solar restoration project in St. Croix,a solar farm in the Cayman Islands, and a new solar farm in St. Thomas. In addition to its energy projects, BMR is creating positive change at the community level with initiatives that span economic development, infrastructure upgrades, support for schools and community engagement. 

Richard Branson next to solar panels
Image by Owen Buggy


British start-up SoluBlue won €500,000 in the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge in 2021, which Richard Branson has supported for a long time.

SoluBlue won the competition for its sustainable alternative to plastic and bioplastic food packaging. Its packaging looks and feels like plastic, but is breathable and hydrophilic, which means it absorbs excess moisture from food. The packaging extends shelf life and allows food to gradually dry over months, giving fresh food a second life in cooking or as animal feed. Made from seaweed, the material is bio-digestible, which makes it safe for marine life and able to biodegrade as quickly as the food that it contains.


The climate impact of meat production is enormous – livestock currently produces around 14% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, on par with all forms of transportation combined. Virgin Group has invested in UPSIDE Foods and its mission is to bring delicious, healthy meat to the table by harvesting it from cells instead of animals.

Referred to as cell-cultured meat, UPSIDE Foods’ products aim to make meat better for the planet and its inhabitants, while using less land and water. At scale, the process will create less waste and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Chicken and waffles made with UPSIDE Foods' cultivated meat

Want to see more on innovations from across the Virgin Group and beyond? Take a look at the rest of Holly Branson's Dreamers and Innovators series: