Xampla’s sustainable plastic could be used in packaging - but other save-the-world projects come first
Could Xampla have solved the problem of sustainable sandwich wrappers and food boxes as a by-product of pioneering sustainable microplastics technology?
The University of Cambridge spin-out’s major scientific breakthrough involves the development of single-use plastic made from every plants, such as peas. With potential for everything from single-use bags to sachets, Xampla’s first product will be a natural ‘microcapsule’ to keep fragrance fresh inside personal and homecare products like fabric conditioner. Currently, brands have to use microcapsules made from synthetic polymers (ie traditional plastic) which get washed down the drain, pollute the environment and are set be banned by legislators as the great plastic clean-up programme looks to new solutions.
But Xampla’s plastic is edible to microbes and sea creatures when it goes from your washing machine to the sea.
The company, which has been selected by Sifted, the Financial Times’s start-up arm, as one of its ‘Pioneers of the new world’, is concentrating on initial applications in hair washing and laundry products.
The FT report lists the key start-ups ‘at the forefront of seismic change’, and highlights Xampla in its 10 most exciting companies, and leads the ‘Sustainability’ category for its ground-breaking work to create the world’s first plant protein material to replace single-use plastic.
Xampla CEO Simon Hombersley said: “For our promise to be recognised in this way is humbling and exciting in equal measure. Sifted describes our product as a ‘secret weapon’ in the fight against plastic pollution - perhaps not so secret now! Our breakthrough does indeed have the potential to ‘mark a mass evolution in sustainable plastic’ and we’re in discussions with several large corporates ahead of the launch of our first product later this year.”
Xampla, founded by Professor Tuomas Knowles, Dr March Rodriguez Garcia and Simon Hombersley in 2018, raised £2m earlier this year in a funding round led by Amadeus Capital Partners. Such has been its immediate success that it has chosen to focus initially on replacing intentionally-added microplastics with its sustainable alternative, but the innovation could rapidly spread through a wide range of consumer products, from single-use bags to sachets.. to sandwich wrappers.
“Xampla’s material has potential for use in a wide range of packaging,” confirmed the company. “There’s not much to say about the sandwich wrappers right now. The material can form flexible films, so Xampla has been experimenting with prototype products like bags, sachets and sandwich box windows - and it’s looking very promising, but a small start-up has to have clear focus in order to gain traction and start generating revenue, and the development focus right now is firmly on microplastic ingredients as their first product, a microcapsule, is due for launch later this year.
“The development of film products may start next year.”