Part II - Why Sustainable Packaging May Be Your Best Investment Yet (And 3 Startups That Can Help)

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Jeff Way

Aug 25, 2022 • 9 min read

If you haven’t yet had the chance to read part one of this sustainable packaging series, you may want to check it out here before reading further. It’s a great setup for what’s to come. But if your time is limited, not to worry; here’s the gist of what you missed …

We’re in the middle of a sustainability movement fueled by millennial and Gen-Z preferences for purpose, quality, and novelty, increasing regulatory mandates, and the growing popularity of the circular economy. In other words, there’s surging market demand for more convenient and sustainable products. And packaging sits at the intersection of them both.

In response, corporations worldwide are challenged to create packaging solutions that fit the bill. To support this endeavor, many corporations are turning to partners like Pilot44 to help them tackle the circular economy and understand what is required to succeed.

Let’s look at how Pilot44 taps into the startup ecosystem to help corporations innovate sustainable packaging in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost.

Where ideation meets innovation: sustainable packaging solution pilots corporations need.

Pilot44 and partner Emerald Technology Ventures recently ran a program bringing together ten multinationals committed to tapping into the startup ecosystem to identify and pilot solutions to replace plastic packaging with paper-based, fully recyclable/compostable packaging without sacrificing the performance of plastic.

Here are 3 startups who stepped up to the challenge:

1. Cellucomp
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CelluComp’s primary product is Curran®, a material developed from the extraction of nanocellulose fibres of root vegetables

CelluComp provides an alternative to plastic coatings in paper and cardboard barrier packaging called Curran®. Curran® is microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) made from root vegetables’ co-product or waste streams (think sugar beet pulp, for example). Unlike traditional wood-based cellulose, Curran® is taken from the cell wall structure of the plant and kept in platelet form, making the end product highly biodegradable.

The solution pilot: An alternative to plastic coatings that has enhanced strength, better shape retention and durability when wet, excellent barrier performance despite its thinner coating, and a longer shelf life. It is also fully biodegradable and recyclable. The solution was ideal for the food-product needs of one of the companies involved in the program, but it could also be applied to a range of other applications, including paints and coatings, paper, concrete, and more.

2. MetGen

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MetGen’s METNIN™ SHIELD solution for packaging applications
In response to the addition of non-biodegradable, fossil-based, synthetic materials into cardboard that increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, contain petrochemicals, and face durability challenges in conditions of high humidity, MetGen developed Metin™ Shield, a sustainable biobased solution made up of refined lignin (think molecules found in plants), that can be applied during the production of packaging paper.

The solution pilot: Self-described “sexy” boxes that are not only food contact compliant, 100% biodegradable, repulpable, recyclable, but are also weatherproof, more robust and durable, water/moisture resistant, and have more than an 80% GHG emission reduction potential.

3. Nfinite

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Nfinite’s key enabling features for packaging
Nfinite offers smart nanocoating technology that can replace existing plastic packaging solutions. Applied one atomic layer at a time, Nfinite produces ultrathin nanocoatings that can integrate into existing and new manufacturing processes.

The solution pilot: Higher barrier recyclable and compostable, aluminum-free packaging with a long shelf life, and paper that performs like plastic.

These solutions are only the tip of the iceberg. Many sustainable packaging-focused startups are rising to the challenge, presenting innovative packaging alternatives that incorporate new materials and are more sustainable and, in some cases, less expensive.

For companies looking to quickly reduce their environmental footprint and enable consumers to live more responsibly through packaging innovation, this is a timely reminder that you don’t have to do it alone.

Find out how Pilot44 can help you interpret and apply startup ecosystem technology today.

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