Global Goals

Spotlight: Back of the Yards Algae Sciences

By September 12, 2022 No Comments

Using Algae To Create Sustainable Food Production and Circular Economies

Goal 12: Ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) states: “The food sector accounts for 30 percent of the world’s total energy consumption and accounts for around 22 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.”

When it comes to sustainable food production and consumption, there is clearly ample room for improvement. With the bounty of resources our planet provides us, we must learn to responsibly consume and reverse the damage humanity has inflicted on the world.

Around the globe, innovative organizations are pushing the envelope and creating groundbreaking methods for sustainable and ethical food production. Here in Chicago, in our own backyard, we’re fortunate to have a forward-looking group of scientists advancing the field of sustainable food. 

Back of the Yards Algae Sciences, aptly named and located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in southwest Chicago, sat down with UNA Chicago to speak on their mission of sustainable food production.


SPOTLIGHT: Marc Peter Geytenbeek, Back of the Yards Algae Sciences (BYAS)

What is BYAS?

BYAS is a sustainable, algae-based technology company and food innovator working to:

  • Speed the transition to alternative proteins (plant-based food, colorants, and functional ingredients) that are cheaper, higher quality and better for the environment.
  • Transform greenhouse, CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture), and vertical farming into a profitable and sustainable food source.

Would you elaborate further on your expertise and mission as a company?

 Our EXPERTISE is in the innovation and scale-up of microalgae and fungi (mycelia) for high value products in food and agriculture.

 Our AIM is to meet the demands of our industrial customers for: 

  • Natural colorants, functional ingredients, and food for human well-being
  • Sustainable and regenerative agriculture

Our VISION is to be one of the most sustainable and innovative companies in the world.

How do you use algae as a tool in sustainable food production?

BYAS has developed BYAS-A601, a Phycocyanin Rich Spirulina Extract (PRSE). This is a potent microalgae-based biostimulant that has been tested in comparative trials and is a proven natural accelerator of plant growth and phytochemical production.

BYAS-A601 is a proprietary, natural mix of microalgal phytohormones, active proteins, and polysaccharides for use in early, vegetative, and flowering phases in all growth media.

BYAS-A601 is a prebiotic (non living).

BYAS-A601 has shown:

  • Linear, accelerated growth: acts across entire growth cycle 
  • Increase in biomass 
  • Increased water retention 
  • Lessens transplant shock 
  • Improved flavor/sugar content

BYAS-A601 is produced at a facility committed to sustainability and the circular economy.

Our team is devoted to sustainable innovation and cutting-edge R&D to extract the maximum value for humanity from the Earth’s rich well spring of microalgae.

In addition to producing biostimulant, a primary focus of our mission is sustainable ingredient and colorant production. Not only are these algae and mycelia-based ingredients good for the environment, they are full of 100% natural protein and provide substantial health benefits.

What is a circular economy, and why is it important?

A circular economy keeps materials, products, and services in circulation for as long as possible.

The circular economy, when designed in a thoughtful and inclusive manner, has the potential to protect the environment, improve economics, and elevate social justice. Sustainability from its foundation requires social equity. How we extract, use, and dispose of our resources can affect already vulnerable communities disproportionately.

Our production process slogan is: “Today’s food waste is tomorrow’s food.”

How does your process help reduce waste and create a circular economy?

Our manufacturing platform consists of:

  • Bio-refinery and bio-economy – bacteria, microalgae, and mycelia as “micro-factories” for high-value products
  • Circular economy and zero waste manufacturing – resource recovery and food waste valorization
  • Low carbon footprint – CO2 used as feedstock for microalgae cultivation
  • Green chemistry – natural process for extraction, purification of microbial extracts

In essence, your algae helps accelerate the growth of food products and creates environmentally-friendly alternatives for meats and food colorings.

The big question is: what is your favorite food product you’ve innovated?

There are so many great products; but to name a few: 

Vegan broth 

Beer made from spirulina (algae), wheatgrass, mycelia (fungus root)

Vegan spicy tuna sushi roll

Blue M&M candies, colored with natural dye

Where can I find out more about BYAS?

See our website and Instagram for more information!


The 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production

UN Environment Programme – Resource efficiency

FAO Website for Sustainable Production



Author Charles Kay

More posts by Charles Kay

Leave a Reply