Interview with Green Alley Award finalist Cellugy
Cellugy from Denmark competed against more than 250 startups, making it to the Green Alley Award finals! The startup has come up with EcoFLEXY, a 100% bio-based alternative to conventional plastic packaging. Made from agricultural waste, the cellulose foil can break down into fertile compost and is resistant to water and temperature changes. The translucent and flexible bio-sheets are eco-friendly and suitable for the food industry. Read about their product and the challenges ahead.
# What are the benefits of your product compared to similar cellulose solutions? How will you compete with conventional plastic packaging in terms of cost competitiveness?
Cellugy’s novel production process, together with the fact that it uses food waste streams (fruit waste), not only helps to reduce the problem of disposing million tons of waste produced by the food industry, but also promises a significant reduction in the end-product cost. Cellugy expects to price EcoFLEXY materials more competitive than other bioplastic solutions available in the market. EcoFLEXY can be recycled in the existing system and is converted into compost at room temperature; consumers can place the packaging films in the “Paper Recycling Stream” or in their compost heap or together with organic waste, where it will decompose in 4-12 weeks, in the presence of soil. Thus, both householders and municipalities benefit from simplified end-of-life waste disposal.
# Your material derives from fruit waste and sugar containing plants. Solutions based on plants that could also serve as human nutrition often raises concerns. How do you deal such concerns?
This is a true concern in terms of the raw material used for different biodegradable, bio based packaging. However, CELLUGY uses second-generation feedstock. EcoFLEXY (our material) will positively impact the society as we use of fruit waste as feedstock avoids to compete with food crops. The feedstock is 100% renewable and non-edible (fruit waste), avoiding the competition with crops that might be used to feed the exponentially growing population. In addition, using organic waste (fruit waste), we want to reach the target of becoming carbon negative by 2021, being able to prevent that 420 tons of CO2 are released into the environment. If compared with the average fossil-based plastics, each kilogram of ecoFLEXY reduces the greenhouse emissions in 96%.
# What are the next steps for your startup? Are you currently facing any challenges?
Cellugy plans to penetrate the European market through the Nordic countries, which have long fostered a culture of sustainability and where the bio economy & circular economy is of fundamental importance. Europe accounts for the largest market share in the global bioplastic market (close to ⅓ of the world’s tonnage) and is anticipated to dominate the market during the 2018-2024 period. By 2026, Cellugy aims to be a leading player in this growing market, with a market share of its serviceable available market – flexible packaging for the food industry (a €0.9bn market globally) – of 2.4%. To reach the aforementioned goal, we are highly focused on raising investments that will serve to establish the Pilot Production line and have completed the design of our material (ecoFLEXY) and have the Go to Market strategy ready for executions with a number of customer contracts signed.