Reuters published a depressing animated graphic last week that showed how big the world’s addiction to plastic bottles is (picture a mountain next Manhattan). Three hundred and eighty million metric tons of plastic was created in 2015, with more than 80 percent of that plastic was discarded or incinerated.
The good news is that as the world wakes up to this synthetic nightmare, startups around the globe are tackling the issue. One of them, Israeli company TIPA, announced this week that it has raised $25 million in funding for its plastic-like, fully compostable packaging. Blue Horizon Ventures, Triodos Organic Growth Fund participated in the round with existing investors Chestnut and GreenSoil Investments on board as well. This brings the total amount raised by TIPA to $49 million.
TIPA makes a number of different packaging products including produce bags, whole bean coffee bags, snack pouches, baked good bags, and more. The TIPA website is pretty vague about the properties of its plastic-like materials, saying only that its material will break down within 180 days at an industrial composting facility. In an interview with CTech in June, TIPA said, “Depending on the type of packaging and shape, the compostable plastic is made up of anywhere from 20-60% plant-based ingredients, such as non-genetically modified corn.”
TIPA is a B2B company and doesn’t sell consumer storage products. It doesn’t relay specifics about price and any sort of parity with traditional plastic, with the FAQ providing just that “The pricing of our products is contingent on various parameters such as quantity, the product inside the package, the thickness of the material, printing options, shelf life needed and more.”
As noted, lots of startups are looking to reinvent our food packaging with more eco-friendly materials. CuanTec makes packaging out of shellfish waste, Decomer makes plant-based water-soluble packaging, and Zume Inc acquired Pivot Packaging to make its own line of compostable molded fiber pizza containers.
The plastic we’ve already made may last pretty much forever, but hopefully these up-and-coming technologies can scale up fast enough to make traditional plastic a thing of the past.