British skincare brand Elemis has revealed that it is working to transform plant waste from its product ingredients into bio-based films, which could be used to replace the flexible plastics currently used to package samples.
The news comes in the same week that sustainable snack start-up One Good Thing launched, touting the world’s first wrapper-free snack bars and protein bars.
Elemis is collaborating with Xampla, a firm specializing in biodegradable materials, to develop the bio-based films. These will be produced using the firm’s existing processes for making Morro materials (its first materials on the consumer-facing market), but with plant waste from Elemis ingredient supply chains as the feedstock.
It is hoped that, within six months, the collaboration will yield heat-sealable films that can replace single-use plastics used in skincare samples. Elemis will then explore whether these can be scaled and launched to consumers.
Elemis is certified as a B-Corp and is aiming for all of its packaging to be recyclable, reusable or biodegradable by 2025.
Plastic sachets are not recyclable at kerbside in the UK; their lightweight nature and the fact that they often contain layers of different materials, compounded by contamination issues, make their recycling costly and challenging.
Oriele Frank Co-founder and chief product and sustainability officer, Elemis
“We continue to innovate and investigate new ideas, and partners wherever possible with organisations that can help move the dial on key environmental or social challenges.”
“What we find so exciting about this project is how utilising waste from left-over plant material can potentially tackle one of our key packaging dilemmas too.”
The Elemis x Xampla project has been supported by a grant co-funded by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and Innovate UK. The PlasticFree campaign also provided support in the way of facilitation.
One Good Thing
Elsewhere, snacking start-up One Good Thing has launched its products – wrapperless snack bars and protein bars – to the UK market.
Each bar is coated with an edible film made using beeswax and other bio-based ingredients. The brand claims that the coating is “hard enough to hold and protect the contents but is thin and soft enough to chew easily”.
Moreover, tests of the coating have found that it will not disintegrate when wet, meaning that the bars should be transported and stored just as easily as any others on the market.
The only packaging on the bars is their cardboard boxes. These contain 70% recycled content and can be recycled at home in the UK.
One Good Thing bars are currently being sold exclusively through a direct-to-consumer model. Prices range from £1.54 to £2.50 per bar.
Between 2012 and 2021, the most common plastic packaging items discarded in UK homes were snack bags, packets and wrappers.
These flexible plastics are not recycled at kerbside. Most major British supermarkets now offer flexible plastic recycling collection points at their larger stores.
New innovation funding
The news from Elemis and One Good Thing comes in the same week that NGO WRAP announced a partnership with Archipelago Ventures for a new investment programme supporting next-generation solutions for plastics.
Called the Circular Plastic Accelerator, the programme will run for at least five years, supporting early-growth stage companies developing innovative solutions in the plastics space.
Eligible companies including those focused on plastic reduction and reuse, as well as new recycling systems including chemical recycling. Digital tools that could improve the plastic value chain’s visibility and material efficiency are also eligible to apply for Series A funding through the programme.
Lucy Mortimer Archipelago Ventures’ co-founder
“At a time when startups face a challenging economic outlook and urgently need engaged, active investment and support from their investors, the Circular Plastics Accelerator is an important new model that will help emerging ideas flourish and develop the sector into a more attractive proposition for investors.”
“By shining a light on new transformative technologies, the Accelerator will help increase investor confidence in the sector for the benefit our future innovators – and ultimately the sector.”
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