- Founders: Cosimo Maria Palopoli, Maria Lucia Gaetani, Andrea Tozzi
- Founded in: 2019
- Employees: Just under 10
- Money raised: Unknown
- Ultimate goal: Be the best alternative for plastic.
That plastic packaging is bad for the environment is obvious by now. But what can you replace it with? The Italian Innovation Utility Vehicle (IUV) has the solution: Edible and biodegradable packaging made from waste products from the food industry. Founder Cosimo Maria Palopoli talks to us about this new technology.
How does it work?
“We have two types of technologies for packaging on offer. The first is a spray that is intended for solid, fresh produce. The food is coated with the spray, so to speak. This spray is made from waste products from the food industry that have been roasted, such as grains or fruit and vegetable peel. You could coat apples or cucumbers with it. Using more layers, you could also use it to package drinks, like a kind of bottle. The other way involves a thin layer of film intended for dry food with a long shelf life or for non-food packaging like cosmetics. This packaging is flexible, much like plastic.”
Also interesting: This start-up removes plastic from water – sustainably
There are already start-ups that have come up with alternatives to plastic packaging. What makes you so different?
Most start-ups focus on one branch of food and make packaging for that. In other words, they work vertically. We work horizontally. We offer packaging for every kind of food and non-food product. The coating and the layer of film are suitable for a wide variety of products. What’s more, not many start-ups bring a new type of material to the market. They often work with existing materials such as glass and cardboard. Our packaging is completely new. It is in fact a new kind of polymer that, unlike plastic, respects nature.”
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Plastic is cheap. How do you compete where costs are concerned?
“At the moment, our packaging is more expensive than plastic. We hope that the costs will come down as it becomes more widely used. The costs are complex because they are dependent on several different factors. What product you use, how much coating or packaging you need, how many companies will use it? But a rough estimate would be €10 to €15 per 250 milliliters for the spray and €4 per kilo for the film coating. Moreover, in the future, single-use plastic will be driven back further by European legislation. We then want to be able to offer companies a good alternative.”
What are some of the obstacles you are facing?
“We were about to make a huge leap as a company in 2020. We had been negotiating with a partner for some time for an investment. As a result of the pandemic, the partner lost interest and started to focus on packaging that was badly needed during the crisis. We have now found a new investment partner, Tozzi Green, an Italian company active in renewable energy all over the world. Furthermore, we are working on crowdfunding to be able to offer our packaging in our own country and also outside of Italy. We expect to enter the market in the second half of 2022.”
Would you like to read more stories about start-ups? You can find the previous instalments in this series here.