By now, most of us are aware of the shocking amount of waste left behind to pollute our planet as a result of our throwaway convenience culture. And a big part of what’s fuelling our plastic waste crisis is packaging, from disposable plastic bags to cutlery and single-use delivery parcels. Thankfully, a number of companies are now pioneering innovative solutions to traditional packaging. While the packaging alternative industry is full of new ideas, we’re showcasing six startups from around the world that are at the forefront of fighting packaging waste with their clever and planet-friendly solutions.
1. noissue: Recycled & Plant-Based E-Com Retail Packaging
Founded in 2017, noissue is an Auckland-based startup providing eco-friendly packaging solutions that come in all sizes and shapes and are fully customisable. From tissues to stickers, tape, and mailer packaging, the company offers a variety of sustainable materials to choose from, including compostable types that are derived from plant-based or biopolymer materials, recycled plastic, and reusable options. Unlike most packaging suppliers, noissue also gives clients the option to order in low minimum quantities to ensure the least amount of waste and maximum accessibility to small businesses. Each order made also contributes to tree planting projects via noissue’s partnering nonprofit organisations.
DID YOU KNOW: 40% of plastic produced is packaging, used just once and then discarded.
2. Packoorang: Upcycled & Reusable Mailer And Delivery Bags
Packoorang is a Norwegian company specialising in reusable packaging that can be recirculated in the economy up to 500 times. Since its inception in 2019, the company has been designing and creating the polyester material for its reusable bag out of recycled bottles and off-cuts from clothing factories. Their bags are also padded with an inside layer that can protect the contents of the package, making its solution both functional and eco-friendly.
DID YOU KNOW: We produce 300 million tons of plastic every year, 50% of which is for single-use purposes.
3. Sustainabl.: Home Compostable F&B Packaging
Sustainable. is a Hong Kong-based startup creating zero-waste lifestyle and household products and home compostable F&B packaging. Its first product was a drinking straw made from natural sustainably-sourced lepironia grass, a type of bamboo grass abundant in Southeast Asia. Unlike paper and plant-based plastic straw alternatives, Sustainabl.’s solution is 100% home compostable, biodegradable, toxin and preservative-free, carbon-neutral, vegan and suitable for gluten-free folk. After its launch last year, the company has expanded its range with home compostable takeaway cups and food containers made from sugarcane “bagasse” pulp, a 100% natural byproduct of the sugarcane industry.
DID YOU KNOW: In 1950 the world produced only 2 million tonnes of plastic per year. By 2015, we produced 381 million tonnes, a 20 times increase.
4. Distinctive Action: Water Soluble, Compostable & Non-Toxic Plastic-Free Bags
Founded last year in Hong Kong, #INVISIBLE (formerly Distinctive Action) has created a bag that ‘disappears’ in water. Dubbed the “Invisible Bag”, the product is designed to replace conventional plastic bags – it is water-soluble, non-toxic, biodegradable, compostable, and leaves no trace of microplastics on the planet. It is now already partnered with a number of retailers and restaurants to offer customers a convenient yet totally waste-free solution to the plastic bag problem.
Green Queen Editorial Disclaimer: #INVISIBLE products are made from PVA, aka polyvinyl alcohol. While the water-soluble material is certified compostable according to the US Standard ASTM D6400 and the European Standard EN13432 and doesn’t contain PP, PE, PS and PVC plastic, PVA is a synthetic polymer derived from fossil fuels.
DID YOU KNOW: Half the world’s plastic is made in Asia, and China accounts for 29% of that.
Read: Distinctive Action co-founders on how sustainable packaging alternatives are becoming a “must-have” for businesses
5. barePack: Reusable Food/Drink Containers For Delivery & Takeaway
barePack was founded in Singapore as a convenient solution to make takeaway orders more sustainable and fight the mounting waste crisis caused by disposables. According to the company, it is the “world’s first unlimited returnable container subscription platform”, which allows its members to connect with reusable-friendly vendors for discounts and rewards. Since its launch, the circular platform has already collaborated with Foodpanda Singapore a few months ago and most recently with fellow delivery operator giant Deliveroo.
DID YOU KNOW: About 8% of the world’s oil production is used to make plastic.
Read: Q&A with barePack co-founder Roxane Uzureau
6. Notpla: Edible & Biodegradable Seaweed-Based Sauce Sachets
London-based Notpla is a startup creating sustainable packaging out of seaweed and plants. Their star product is Ooho, a flexible packaging sachet that is suitable for beverages and sauces, which is 100% edible (ideal for takeaway sauces and condiments) – leaving behind zero waste – or alternatively, it can biodegrade in 4-6 weeks. Aside from coming up with a solution to replace bottles, cups, and sachets, Notpla has also come up with a Notpla Liner, which tackles the problem of water- and grease-proofing cardboard takeaway food containers. As opposed to conventional lined cardboard, which usually uses plastic, Notpla’s is biodegradeable and even re-pulpable.
DID YOU KNOW: Of the plastic waste produced between 1950 and 2015, only 9% was recycled.
Lead image courtesy of noissue / Packoorang / Sustainabl. / Distinctive Action / barePack / Notpla / designed by Green Queen Media.