January 29, 2020

Startups fighting against packaging waste


Startups attack the challenge of packaging waste with a variety of creative approaches

Startups fighting against packaging waste – Waste generated from product packaging is a monumental problem for our environment. According to the EPA, the U.S. generated 80.1 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2017 from containers and packaging. Scientific studies have emerged with damaging evidence against unsustainable materials and shocking statistics about waste pollution.

Consumers cry out more and more for changes to be made and for companies to implement sustainable packaging methods. Startups have arisen, answering the call with innovative approaches to solving the challenge of packaging waste. 


Green-tech startups emerge

The environmental danger of unsustainable packaging presents a problem that needs resolution. With the demand for sustainability ever-growing, investors have showered funding onto inspired startup ventures aimed at revolutionizing the way the packaging world works. 

Some companies focus on repurposing the trash we currently produce, others look to improve the process of recycling useful materials. Startups like Sulapac aim to replace outdated, unsustainable materials with eco-friendly products and companies like Algramo and Loop concentrate on establishing reusable systems for product packaging. 


Finding a new purpose for trash

In the last three years, GreenMantra Technologies has raised $24 million to support its quest to recycle plastic packaging into waxes and chemical additives that are required for construction and manufacturing. In doing so, they successfully ‘upcycle’ plastic products that commonly end up in landfills. 

BioCellation represents another startup putting waste to good use. They take post-consumer plastic packaging waste and transform it into important chemical intermediates required for the production of performance materials, solvents, coatings, etc. BioCellation’s vision is to fully replace current solvents produced from petroleum with acids made with 100% recycled packaging.


Improving the recycling process

Other startups target the current recycling process, seeking to improve efficiency and expand the range of recyclable materials. Recycling centers face a multitude of problems that prevent them from recycling materials that are, in fact, recyclable. Mixed-material packaging often contains plastic, aluminum foil, and corrugated material, which poses an unresolvable dilemma for recyclers and most of the time ends up in landfills. For example, chip bags, toothpaste containers, Keurig K-Cups, and milk cartons represent non-recyclable packaging products that comprise of recyclable materials. 

A German startup called Saperatec hopes to “tackle the problem of mixed-material packaging” with a proprietary “chemical bath” process that separates materials like aluminum, low-density polyethylene, and polyester – allowing them to be recycled. Their vision is to enhance recycling technologies to allow for greater resource conservation and reuse of raw materials. 


Switching to sustainable materials

Another wave of green startups fighting against packaging waste focuses entirely on developing innovative materials capable of replacing current packaging with more sustainable alternatives. Compostable packaging, as well as biodegradable packaging solutions, represent significantly more eco-friendly solutions as compared to traditional packaging, like expanded polystyrene.

In December of 2019, Finnish startup Sulapac raised $16.5 million in new funding, bringing them to a grand total of $21 million, to support their search for biodegradable alternatives. Israeli company, Tipa, similarly has received $46 million in the last 3 years, bankrolling their development of compostable packaging solutions. The number of sustainable startups grows rapidly, with more and more money channeled towards innovative, green-tech companies. 


Startups fighting against packaging waste with reusability

While some companies look at the waste produced today, others plan for the future by designing reusable, closed-loop systems to revolutionize the packaging process itself. Loop, for example, provides a delivery service and reusable cooler bags to ship, collect, and re-ship food products and consumer goods from a number of brands. 

Algramo fighting packaging waste

A Chilean startup called Algramo uses smart packaging with RFID technology (Radio-Frequency Identification) and a food-truck-style van to refill consumer products. Currently, they offer OMO detergent and QUIX dishwasher soap as part of their refill service. They employ smart packaging as a reusable alternative, a zero waste solution with exciting future potential. 


Waste reduction. Sustainable materials. Closed-loop system. 

All of these green-tech startups have goals to reduce waste through innovation. New technologies, new materials, and new processes to fix the problems of traditional product packaging. 

EPE puts innovation to work with each packaging solution we design. We approach every product with sustainably-driven engineering in order to create truly unique packaging solutions. This allows our designs to achieve breakthrough reductions in material – cutting out huge amounts of waste from the supply chain. EPE packaging designs use 100% curbside recyclable materials, replacing polystyrene much like many prominent green startups are, with more sustainable materials. 

Startups fighting against packaging waste

Our designs not only present innovative solutions, competitive with the most out-of-the-box ideas, but are tested and proven in the market. We combine our years of packaging experience with forward-thinking design engineering to create optimized solutions, capable of reusable, closed-loop ecosystems and battle-tested for maximum performance. 

Talk to one of our packaging experts today about our sustainable, innovative designs.