Paper-like packaging developed to replace plastic coffee pods

Melbourne, Australia - Two Melbourne entrepreneurs are developing a technology which uses plant-based waste to make paper-like packaging that has attributes similar to plastic.

Stuart Gordon and Mark Appleford, co-founders of Varden, use waste from sugarcane in the process and their technology has caught the attention of venture- capital fund Horizon Ventures, which has supplied $2.2 million in funding. The venture capital fund manages the money of one of the world’s richest men Li Ka-shing.

The push for new packaging alternatives comes at a time when the European Union has instituted a ban on single-use plastic, which goes into effect in 2021.

Other major companies such as Nestlé and Walmart have pledged to use only sustainable packaging for products beginning in 2025. Municipal retailers in Canada are also looking to ban single- use plastic bags.

The two entrepreneurs saw this as a means of solving one of the environmental problems that that plagued the country as well as the plastic garbage that washed up on Australia’s beaches. Varden has initially settled on the coffee pod market and put together an early prototype of their coffee pods made from sugarcane bagasse, a waste byproduct of the sugar feedstock. The production process has evolved to fit inside a 40-foot container that holds the firm’s machine, which takes agricultural waste and converts that waste into packaging.

With the new money, Varden will begin manufacturing at scale to meet initial demand from pilot customers and is hoping to expand its product line to include medical blister packs in addition to the coffee pods.

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