- Founders: Anne Lamp and Johanna Baare
- Founded in: 2020
- Employees: 21
- Money raised: Seed investment totalling one million euros, and a 2.4 million euro grant from the EIC Accelerator.
- Ultimate goal: Our vision is for a world where the materials we use impact positively on the planet, making pollution and waste history. We aim to realise this by engineering advanced biomaterials that are integrated into nature's biological cycle without leaving a trace.
The average amount of plastic waste that is produced per person is 31 kilograms in the EU, Eurostat reports. Yet only about 40 percent of this waste is recycled. The start-up traceless has discovered a solution to this problem. The company has developed a technology for producing materials that have the appearance of plastic, but can break themselves down into water and CO2. In this instalment in our start-up-of-the-day series, Ritva Krist, marketing manager at traceless, tells us more about the values and goals of the company.
What do you actually do at traceless?
“With traceless materials, we are bringing a novel biomaterial to the market. It is a real alternative to standard plastics and bioplastics in terms of quality, functionality, and price. Our technology allows us to use plant residues from food production to make naturally compostable materials. We don’t use any hazardous chemicals in our product or process. This makes our materials safe for humans and nature. Up to 87 percent less CO2is emitted in the production and disposal of our materials compared to conventional plastics. Finally, products made from trackless materials decompose into CO2 and water after use. We are closing the biological life cycle this way and contributing to preventing marine pollution and reducing the production of waste.”
What problem are you solving and why is it important?
“85 percent of all plastics ever produced are still in landfills or floating in our oceans. They are not compostable. This can cause significant environmental and marine pollution and pose a threat to human health. The production of plastic is also a significant contributor to climate change. Industry, politicians, and consumers are looking for alternatives to reduce plastic pollution, avoid additional costs, and at the same time offer the product quality that they are used to.”
How did the idea of traceless come about?
“Anne Lamp, our co-founder and CEO earned her PhD as a process engineer in the field of biorefinery for her research on the holistic use of second-generation biomass to replace fossil raw materials. During her studies, she got inspired by her voluntary experience at Cradle-to-Cradle. She championed a design concept that is inspired by nature, one that promotes ensuring that all materials are used in a continuous cycle. Combining this concept with her academic background, she invented the technology for a holistic sustainable alternative to plastic: materials that leave no trace.
She soon realized that only a swift commercialization of the technology would unlock the full potential for making an impact on plastic pollution, and decided to co-found traceless together with Johanna Baare. For her part, Baare complements the expertise of the pair of female founders in matters concerning business and strategy development. She combines know-how in entrepreneurship and business development to help scale up upcoming ventures and teams.”
What are some of the real challenges that you face daily?
“What we are doing hasn’t been done before. In order to develop a completely new material, a lot of basic research is necessary. First, you have to think about the theoretical connections, then you test them out in a laboratory – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Next, you sit down with the results and think about things a bit more, come up with new ideas and improve the quality of the process and the material bit by bit. The biggest challenge is to recognize the right paths and then follow them without taking any wrong turns.”
What have been the best moments so far?
“Ever since our foundation in September 2020, we have been lucky to have experienced all kinds of different milestones. In 2021, we successfully raised seed investment. In the same year, we received a €2.42 million grant from the European Innovation Council (EIC) under the auspices of the Horizon Europe EIC Accelerator. This helped us to further accelerate our scale-up. Aside from this, we have already received some amazing recognition in the press and media, and we have won several national and European awards. In 2022, we were nominated for the Deutsche Gründerpreis, and we won the Wissenschaftspreis. And last year, we got ranked Number 1 of Germany’s TOP 50 Start-ups 2021. We were also selected as the Science Start-Up Breakthrough of the Year 2021 at Falling Walls Venture.”
What can we expect from traceless in the future?
“We want to make the greatest possible contribution we can towards solving global plastic pollution. Our materials are suitable for a wide range of applications, from packaging to disposable products and coating & adhesive materials. We really hope to have a huge impact.
Our ambition is to launch our materials on the market. We’re working with OTTO and Lufthansa, among others. We are working on developing sustainable alternatives to their current product solutions. Eventually, we’ll sell traceless as a drop-in solution to conversion, plastic coating and packaging industries.”
Are you hiring?
“Yes! For people that are interested, we would really encourage them to have a look at the job vacancies page on our website.”