U of M startup to use birch bark for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals

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A University of Minnesota venture called The Actives Factor plans to extract and synthesize naturally occurring chemicals in birch bark to create pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial products and nutritional supplements, according to a news release.

"We believe we have some products that are unique, in demand, and highly beneficial which come from a natural, sustainable, and renewable resource," said Brian Garhofer, president and CEO of The Actives Factory. "What was once being burned is now being brought out for human health benefits."

The Business Journal says the Two Harbors, Minn.-based startup will use techniques developed by Pavel Krasutsky, director of the Chemical Extractives Program at the University of Minnesota Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth, and begin manufacturing this spring.

The birch bark will be collected from regional paper mills, which often consider it a waste product and typically burn it, the Associated Press reports.

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