When it comes to tackling environmental contamination and emissions, unlocking the potential of sustainable, circular materials is both a climate change and commercial imperative. That’s why we’re thrilled to be backing Earthodic, our 12th investment, co-leading their oversubscribed pre-seed round with Investible. Twynam Group and USA-based Closed Loop Partners also participated.
Mounting sustainability pressures are driving demand for eco-friendly packaging solutions across agri-food supply chains. For example, in Australia, both Woolworths and Coles have committed to ensuring that all of their own-brand packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2023 and 2025, respectively. As the focus on sustainable packaging grows, continued reliance on plastic packaging, in particular, is coming under scrutiny and driving a shift towards paper-based alternatives.
However, more sustainable solutions have traditionally fallen short in terms of performance and cost. For example, water-resistance, durability, and strength have been major obstacles in replacing plastic with paper.
Coatings are commonly used to improve functionality, but many coatings contain wax, plastic polymers, or inorganic materials, rendering the treated material non-recyclable, non-repulpable, and/or non-compostable. As a result, coated paper and board products are often destined for landfill, where they contribute to environmental contamination.
Introducing Earthodic and Paperbarc™
Earthodic, based in Queensland, has developed a bio-based coating solution called Paperbarc™. This innovative coating enables paper and board products to become fully recyclable, repulpable, and compostable while maintaining water-resistance and enhancing strength, paving a viable pathway for paper-based solutions to be used as an alternative to plastic packaging.
Paperbarc™ is made from natural materials, including lignin, a polymer responsible for cell wall and tissue structure in plants. Behind cellulose, it is thought to be the second most abundant natural material on earth and makes up 20-35% of the dry biomass of wood. Lignin is a byproduct of existing paper and pulping processes, but despite its natural abundance, it has few industrial applications.
Paperbarc™ is coming to a paper-product near you
Paperbarc™ is particularly well suited to bulk and secondary packaging applications in the agricultural and food supply chain. Examples include replacing wax boxes that carry fruit, vegetables, and seafood in and out of cold rooms.
In the longer term, Earthodic has ambitions to develop a range of coatings that can deliver other functional properties, including grease, oil, microbial, vapor, and alcohol resistance, improved sealability, and variable friction.
Earthodic’s deeptech & commercial team
Earthodic was founded by Albert Tietz, Fiona Donaghey, Melissa Mail, and Anthony Musumeci, a well-rounded team that brings expertise in fundamental materials chemistry as well as commercial experience in the materials and packaging industry.
The team have continued to impress us with their passion, persistence, and pragmatism as we have gotten to know them. They bring a solid combination of technical ability and determination to drive product development, and commercial acumen to ensure that they optimize development for scalability and market needs.
Closing the loop on impact: is Paperbarc™ really better?
Earthodic fits squarely in our “waste and resource recovery” pathway. We think about their potential for impact, and specifically emissions reduction, in at least three specific ways:
Congrats to the Earthodic team, we’re thrilled to be on the journey to a more sustainable future!
For more information on Tenacious Ventures and the kinds of companies we’re looking to partner with, check out pathways to impact and scale, theory of change, and our investment mandate. You can sign up for our weekly insights on building a climate resilient future of food and agriculture here.