Cruz Foam teams up with DiCaprio, Kutcher as advisors and adds a major industry partner

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Actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher have joined Cruz Foam as investors and advisors.
Actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher have joined Cruz Foam as investors and advisors.
ecerf@ucsc.edu (Emily Cerf)

Cruz Foam, a company that started as a Ph.D. student’s project at the UC Santa Cruz Baskin School of Engineering and makes a compostable alternative to styrofoam packaging out of transformed shrimp shells, has added major starpower to their team in their transition to commercialization. Actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher have joined as investors and advisors to the circular materials company, and home appliances giant Whirlpool is now their customer. 

The company began in a Baskin Engineering basement laboratory, where co-founder and CEO John Felts, an electrical and computer engineering (ECE) Ph.D. student at the time, made the first foam. The company’s innovative reuse of chitin, the tough, versatile, and completely biodegradable material found in natural abundance in the shells of sea life, has propelled it to major growth. 

“Cruz Foam’s unique approach to creating a green packaging material has caught the eye of major players in industry,” said Marco Rolandi, co-founder and CSO of CruzFoam and chair of the ECE department at UCSC. “What started as a creative biopolymer engineering project on campus has the potential to greatly transform packaging, and we are excited to see our mission backed by trusted, market-tested partners like Whirlpool as well as high-profile investors who can bring global awareness to our work.” 

Cruz Foam provides an inexpensive and scalable product for an industry yearning for eco-friendly alternatives to single-use, petroleum-based products. The company also announced it is opening a major production facility to accommodate this growth. 

"Cruz Foam is taking a major step in reducing the environmental impact of the supply chain industry," Leonardo DiCaprio said in a press release statement. "The mission to eliminate single use plastics in the ongoing battle for a cleaner and more sustainable environment makes me excited to join as an investor and advisor and I look forward to what we'll achieve together."