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Paper packaging with a patented honeycomb sleeve to protect fragile items

Today, let us present you the next Green Alley Award 2022 finalist: Flexi-Hex! The brothers Sam and Will Boex developed a paper packaging with a patented honeycomb sleeve to protect fragile items. They got inspired for their innovative idea by their hobby surfing. Having a close connection to the ocean and being passionate about protecting the planet’s marine environment, they were looking for a solution for transporting their surf boards without using plastic and without running the risk of damaging them. Their recyclable, biodegradable and natural material is their contribution to counteract the plastic pollution of the oceans. So, being a Cornwall-based, coastal business obviously had a strong impact on Flexi-Hex. Let’s see if their country of origin, the UK, also had an impact. Read the interview and learn more about the startup.

What is the UK circular economy startup scene like, where do you see current trends, maybe especially with regard to packaging innovations?

The circular economy scene here in the UK is vibrant. British consumers are hyper aware of greenwashing and asking probing questions to businesses on what materials they are use in their products, what their manufacturing process looks like and what packaging they are choosing to protect their goods. Every element of the product offering has to be considered and packaging is just one component – and one that we are obviously passionate about!

This consumer interest has led to a growth in start ups looking at circular economy business models, but also pushing established brands to improve the way they work. We’re fortunate to have customers and partners who put sustainably at the top of their agenda, however there is still a long way to go to make circularity mainstream. There are a lot of questions around what it really means and how companies can set out to achieve it.

We’re also seeing growth in the term “regenerative businesses”, one where a company leaves a net positive impact on the planet, leaving more resources for generations ahead. This term is something we have recently built into our vision however is again, not an easy one to achieve with current technology within the packaging industry. But we promise to stay on the forefront of innovation, to keep asking questions and continue to seek out solutions so that one day we might achieve our vision.

The most exciting trend we’ve seen within the packaging industry is the developments of paper material and the possibilities of making it from seaweed or grass, both of which are showing to have better sustainability credentials that virgin or recycled paper.

Can you describe how does your material behaves in the paper stream and how the biodegradation process of it ultimately works?

Paper is made using plant-based cellulose fibers such as wood and starches which means it is naturally biodegradable within 6 months. Admittedly, there are chemicals added during the production process but fortunately this does not affect the biodegradation.

Another main benefit of paper is that it can be recycled up to 6 to 7 times and kerbside recycling is available across the UK, Europe and USA. Most importantly, consumers understand paper as a material and know how to correctly dispose of it by recycling or composting at home. To support this statement, ‘paper is the most recycled packaging material in Europe with an 84% recycling rate’ – CEPI, March 2022.

What is the benefit of your paper alternative over others? Where do you see your USP?

In a growing e-commerce market, there’s a lot of cardboard packaging that goes to waste. That gets ripped open never to be used again. That doesn’t actually protect what’s inside. That’s incongruous with the craft and care of the product people are investing in. We are proud to be the first business to design a paper honeycomb sleeve that’s as flexible as it is protective. One that’s natural, plastic-free, lightweight and thoughtfully designed with people and planet in mind. A sleeve that fits your product no matter what. And one that seamlessly fits in with the look and feel of your brand, enhancing the consumer experience.

We believe our packaging is not only beneficial for brand perception and loyalty, but also helps drive supply chain efficiencies and reduce logistics costs. The sleeves are incredibly compact and can stretch up to 35 times their natural state, making them easy to store and saving companies up to 80% in storage and shipping fees. All our cardboard solutions use minimal material and are designed to protect only the necessary parts of the product to avoid excessive waste. Having passed rigorous European drop tests, the unique structure of our honeycomb sleeves has proven to be incredibly impact resistant, reducing breakage rates to less than 1%.

We’re constantly innovating our products, so they are not only biodegradable, recyclable and plastic-free; but strong, flexible, and easy to use.

Your packaging solution is already utilized for sports equipment, bottles, cosmetics, homeware, and electronics and you already established an international business partner network (US, Europe, Asia, Australasia). What are your next (expansion) goal?

Although we have tailored packaging solutions for the aforementioned industries, we’ve only really taken significant market share in the UK drinks market, so our expansion goals are to continue gaining traction in these markets as well as new ones such as the art and framing market, automotive, pharmaceutical etc.

We are also looking to improve our supply chain and we have recently hired a dedicated team to develop and manage how we source and distribute our products to ensure it runs as efficiently and sustainably as possible.

Complete the following sentence: Our solution helps to save the world because…?”

… it is tackling packaging design with thought and care for the people and our planet.

Take your chance and watch Flexi-Hex pitch their idea live on stage in Berlin on 28th April. Register here and meet our finalist in person.

Source Green Alley Award

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