The next Green Alley Award 2022 finalist we present you is MakeGrowLab from Poland. The startup develops oxygen and water vapor barrier coatings and films that can be either recycled like paper or biodegrade in your organic bin. With this solution, the startup contributes to tackling packaging waste, just like Flexi-Hex. Such solutions are needed because of the European Green Deal which aims at making all packaging on the EU market reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030.
With 23,2% of all applications, packaging waste was also the top waste stream represented in the Green Alley Award 2022. Let’s learn more about MakeGrowLab and their innovation!
Your innovation is another great step to make packaging more sustainable. However, some consumers might not know that it is compostable. How do you ensure that consumers dispose of it correctly to benefit from its biodegradability?
Scoby Packaging Materials are based on high quality nanoscale (not visible by human eye) fibers. SPM is fiber based cellulose- just like traditional paper. We can repulp SPM with paper stream, so when SPM is applied as an additive in paper packaging it won’t cause trouble in paper recycling facilities like conventional glues or coatings. There is also a scenario that material will not get recycled at all- in this case SPM will biodegadate in the natural environment, just like paper added to compost!
What is your USP? What differentiates your material from other biobased and biodegradable plastics?
It is common practice to add fossil based additives to plastic alternatives like paper cups, water bottles from paper and similar. Our materials work without additives from fossil fuels or any other toxic releasing substances. It actually replaces these plastic based additives in paper or other plastic alternatives, giving required barrier and strength properties of packaging without releasing microplastics. Additionally we can be incorporated into many material making processes without changing the manufacturing machinery. That is a very important factor that helps incorporate SPM in many single-use products, just like plastic but without environmental burden.
Your coating is a truly circular innovation: Where do you draw the food waste from that is needed to produce the coatings and films?
It is important to mention that MakeGrowLab can use a variety of feedstocks from food producers like juice makers, breweries or sugar mills. Additionally we reuse substrates during SPM production that make this process even double-circular. Thanks to versatility of feedstock use we can plan scaling up production outside of Europe- where other food waste is available.
Apart from having made it to the Green Alley Award 2022 finals, what has been your last greatest success moment?
We are piloting our materials with companies like Colgate-Palmolive and we are currently raising a $2M round. With recent partnerships and programs we entered, MakeGrowLab is on pace to become the Europe’s largest producer of bacterial nano-cellulose (BNC) for packaging and textiles use.
Complete the following sentence: Our solution helps to save the world, because…?
… it incorporates production where we co-work with nature, not exploit it! Besides the process that incorporates biological systems, SPM helps to save the world because it adds barrier properties and strength to biomaterials without use of fossil fuels but with waste and power of nature. Only small addition of SPM can make biomaterials lighter and protective which will make them more affordable and safe to use by industries. SPM can make adaptation of other biomaterials faster and really contribute to replace and minimize use of plastics in packaging together.
Take your chance and watch Atelier Riforma pitch their idea live on stage in Berlin on 28th April. Register here and meet our finalist in person.
Source Green Alley Award