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Food waste and food packaging occupy a sizable amount of landfill space worldwide. With technology that transforms food waste into takeaway boxes and other containers, AlterPacks is addressing both problems. Pre-seed funding of $1 million has been received for the Singapore-based firm, with Plug and Play APAC, Seed Capital, Earth Venture Capital, and angel investor Alice Foo all contributing.
The additional cash will go toward commercialising AlterPacks in regions including Asia, Australia, and Europe, as well as for production and supply.
The primary raw material used by AlterPacks, a company founded in 2019 to combat single-use plastics, is spent grains, a byproduct of the production of meals like beer. Typically, leftover grains are either composted, utilised as fertiliser, or thrown away. AlterPacks transforms used grains through their manufacturing process into food containers that are freezer and microwave safe as well as compostable at home.
“The properties of spent grains and the volume of grains available globally were two key factors,” founder and CEO Karen told as reported by TechCrunch. “By upcycling the grains, we are creating new economic value and putting what would have been a by-product disposed as animal feed, or headed to landfills and compost, back into the supply chain as food containers that can be used to replace plastic disposables.”
Cheah compared the process of turning used grains into AlterPacks’ food containers to that of making paper pulp. With automated equipment that clean raw materials, mix its formulation, and then press it into different forms of containers, AlterPacks can produce containers on a large scale.
The containers from AlterPacks have been offered for sale since December. Its B2B go-to-market strategy involves collaborating with distributors who provide products to F&B establishments including restaurants and hotels. Since December, AlterPacks containers have been available for purchase. The business is also working to create bio-pellets as a substitute for the petroleum-based polymers used in manufacturing equipment. They are constructed from leftover grains and other agricultural byproducts, such as coconut shells.
In a statement about Plug and Play APAC’s investment, managing partner Jupe Tan said, “We got to know AlterPacks while sourcing for relevant startups for the Alliance to End Plastic Waste Innovation Program and they have gained significant interest from the members of the Alliance, which is naturally a signal for us to do further due diligence for investments. We are glad that we managed to tap into our partnership with SEEDS Capital to co-lead and invest in our very first sustainability startup in APAC and we hope this will be the first of many other sustainability investments with SEEDS Capital.”