After years of ignoring the sector, 2021 was the year that investors finally started to pay attention to the world of sustainable packaging. The past twelve months have seen a number of of investment rounds announced with a focus on innovative materials (algae seems to be having a moment) and single-use packaging.
All of this bears witness to the fact that consumers are demanding better, safer, more ethical packaging for their products and brands are listening, all as the pandemic has left us drowning in plastic waste due to the skyrocketing increase in online shopping and food delivery. Below we roundup the top 10 sustainable packaging funding rounds to have on your radar.
1. Woola – $2.85M Seed
Wool Bubble Wrap & Insulation Packaging
Founded in Estonia in 2020, Woola is a female-led startup that produces packaging made from, you guessed it, wool, to be used in place of single-use plastic bubble wrap. Its first product was a wool envelope, released in December 2020. The wool used is leftover from other industries and can be returned, reused or repurposed by the end user. Woola aims to create an entirely closed loop system with no waste.
Motivation for Woola came from the founders already running an e-commerce site and being disgusted by the amount of unsustainable packaging that was considered the norm. Expansion into the U.K, France and Germany is slated for 2022.
Founders: Anna-Liisa Palatu and Laura Pascual Pratdesaba.
Funding raised: $2.85 million seed round in December 2021.
Key investors: Future Ventures, Kaarel Kotkas, Janer Gorohhov, Kristina Lilleõis.
2. Notpla – $13.5M Series A
Algae-Based Polymer Films & Coatings
2014 saw London-based Notpla begin developing seaweed packaging alternatives. Designed to disappear entirely, leaving no environmental footprint, the company has created a range of alternatives to plastic packaging that are biodegradable and edible. A seaweed-based coating has been created to make food containers fully biodegradable.
2022 has been cited as the year films will be commercially available, with flavoured options being touted.
Founders: Pierre Paslier and Rodrigo García González.
Funding raised: $13.5 million Series A round in December 2021.
Key investors: Horizons Ventures, Torch Capital, Lupa Systems, Astanor Ventures.
3. Sway – $2.5M Seed
Algae-Based Polymer Films
Sway is another company looking to leverage the regenerative prowess of seaweed. It creates fully home compostable and biodegradable alternatives to single-use plastic that adds nutrients back into the earth as it breaks down. Based in San Francisco, it was founded in 2020.
Films and garment bags have already been seen, in a rainbow of colours, with more products expected in 2022.
Founders: Julia Marsh, Matt Mayes and Leland Maschmeyer.
Funding raised: $2.5 million seed round in April 2021.
Key investors: Valor Siren Ventures, Conservation International Ventures, Climate Capital, Sustainable Ocean Alliance.
4. Cruz Foam – $3.5M Seed
Bio-Based Polysterene Alternative
Using a byproduct from the seafood industry, Cruz Foam has developed an alternative to single-use plastics that it calls ‘bio-sustainable’. Previously, the base material has been sent to landfill but is now used to create a biopolymer that works as a structural foam. The end product can be broken down via composting and creates a benign waste.
Cruz Foam was founded in 2017 and headquartered in Santa Cruz. It supplied consumer goods companies, particularly electronics and appliances companies, with its polystyrene alternative.
Founders: John Felts and Marco Rolandi.
Funding raised: $2.5 million seed round in November 2021 and $1 million grant in May 2021.
Key investors: Sony Innovation Fund, Regeneration.VC, National Science Foundation.
5. TIPA – $70M Series C
Compostable Flexible Packaging
Founded in 2010, TIPA hails from Israel and has developed uniquely flexible, compostable food and beverage & fashion packaging solutions. The company specializes in films and laminates that can be turned into bags and pouches. All are made from compostable polymers that have been improved by TIPA for commercial performance.
Founders: Daphna Nissenbaum and Tal Neuman.
Funding raised: $70 million Series C in December 2021.
Key investors: Sony Innovation Fund, National Science Foundation respectively.
6. Oceanium – $5.8M Seed/Grant
Algae-Based Polymer Films
Scottish Oceanium was founded in 2018 to develop seaweed-based ingredients and packaging solutions. It is in the process of refining films that can be used by food and beverage manufacturers, before being composted to return valuable nutrients to the earth.
Plastic alternatives will be branded under its Ocean Ware name with prototypes eagerly anticipated for 2022.
Founders: Charles Bavington and Karen Scofield.
Funding raised: $5.8 million across two seed rounds and one grant in 2021.
Key investors: Green Angel Syndicate, European Maritime & Fisheries Fund.
7. Footprint – $1.6 Billion SPAC
PFAS-Free Plant-Based Food Packaging
Arizona’s Footprint was founded in 2013. It uses plant-based fibres to create alternatives to single-use plastics, but at comparable costs. A diverse range of products is already available, including quick service and ready-to-eat containers. Cups, lids and produce boxes are available as well.
Footprint aims to offer sustainable packaging alternatives for every supermarket aisle.
Founders: Troy Swope and Yoke Chung.
Funding raised: After a $153.3 million in a Series A in 2020, the company announced it is going public on the Nasdaq in the first half of 2022 with a $1.6 billion SPAC.
Key investors: Olympus Partners, S2G Ventures.
8. Xampla – $7.76M Seed
Plant-Based Polymer Films
Based in Cambridge, Xampla was founded in 2018. It creates a plant protein material that functions identically to synthetic polymers but breaks down completely naturally and with no harm to the environment. It is being developed to replace films and sachets that are traditionally made from single-use plastics. More unusually, it also wants to be a substitute for microplastics.
Launch applications include dishwasher tablet wrappers and food container films.
Founder: Marc Rodriguez Garcia.
Funding raised: $7.76 million seed round in January 2021.
Key investors: Horizons Ventures, Avonmore Developments.
9. Noissue – $9.25M Series A
Sustainable Packaging E-Commerce
Headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand, Noissue was founded somewhat by accident. The founders were looking for suitable sustainable packaging for another business venture and when nothing was deliverable, decided to create their own. The company now offers a comprehensive range of customizable packaging solutions, including tissue paper, which is notoriously unsustainable.
Noissue has set out to offer affordable customizable packaging to allow businesses at every stage to brand their delivery systems, while still being sustainable.
Founders: Augie Gruar and Josh Bowden.
Funding raised: $9.25 million in a Series A round in November 2021.
Key investors: Felix Capital.
10. SourceGreenPackaging – Undisclosed Pre-Seed
Sustainable Packaging Marketplace
Source Green Packaging is a global wholesale sustainable packaging marketplace that offers alternatives to single-use plastics. It covers a range of applications, including food and beverage and retail needs. The platform vets all suppliers and showcases certified compostable products that meet exacting environmental standards.
Founders: Luc Des Vallières and Sonalie Figueiras.
Funding raised: Undisclosed pre-seed round in May 2021.
Key investors: David Yeung, Emily Lam Ho, Sandhya Sriram, Ka Yi Ling.
Lead photo courtesy noissue.