Ecoinno, a Hong Kong-based company making sustainable packaging from plant fibers, has raised $6 million in Series A1 funding from Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs and Alibaba Taiwan Entrepreneurs Fund (h/t South China Morning Post). This brings the startup’s total funding to $8.8 million.
Founded in 2015, Ecoinno uses a patented technology to make a sustainable packaging material out of pulp from bamboo and sugar cane. Called green composite material (GCM), the product is compostable and will decompose in 75 days.
Thus far, GCM has been trialed chiefly in CPG applications like coffee capsules, as well as single-use takeaway food containers. South China Morning Post reports that it’s first customer will be an undisclosed Hong Kong airline… once the coronavirus pandemic passes and flights to and from Hong Kong resume in full. The airline will use Ecoinno’s biodegradable food and drink containers to serve passengers.
Ecoinno will use its new funding to scale up production of GCM and expand R&D for more applications of its biodegradable packaging. It’s also building a fully automated factory in Tai Po with robotic assembly lines.
Since most of us are relying on takeaway and delivery to get our food these days, packaging is definitely top of mind. Even before COVID, fast food chains like Taco Bell and Starbucks had outlined ambitious plans to cut packaging waste and switch to recyclable or compostable options.
But not all compostable packaging is actually, well, compostable. Some contain so-called “forever” chemicals which are harmful to humans and never break down. Sweetgreen and Chipotle have both taken big steps in 2020 to transition to truly compostable containers, though it’s tricky to find biodegradable food packaging that’s strong enough to hold food, especially liquid, without breaking. Ecoinno’s GCM is made of 100 percent plant fibers, so no pesky forever chemicals.
Of course, the GCM hasn’t been put to the test yet. But considering we’ll probably see more to-go orders for a long time yet, even after restaurants reopen dining rooms, now is certainly an opportune time to invest in green packaging innovation.