Leaving no traces
Why Planet A Ventures invests in traceless materials
The main problem with plastic is that it just won’t go away. Plastic accounts for 85% of all waste floating in the oceans, and countless tons of this material are piling up at landfill sites all over the world. The impact on the environment is devastating.
In an attempt to get a grip on the problem, the EU introduced a plastic levy of €800 per metric ton of non-recycled plastic packaging waste in January 2021. But even the production of recyclable or reusable plastics causes pollution — in the form of harmful additives, solvents or chemicals. Plus: the plastic production massively contributes to global warming: in 2019, production and incineration of plastic contributed greenhouse gases equivalent to 850 million tonnes of CO2. So far, close to 0% of the plastics currently produced are degradable in the environment.
Pure woman power, concentrated in a new kind of material
Now imagine this: a material that removes itself from the environment. With a production that causes virtually no harmful substances. Plus: unlimited scalability, global usability and a competitive price. Sounds almost too good to be true? After getting to know the two female founders of traceless materials and the material, we think: it is too good to not be true.
traceless materials GmbH was founded by two female founders in Hamburg in September 2020: Dr. Anne Lamp, who invented the technology, and Johanna Baare, who takes care of operations. traceless developed an innovative technology that for the first time allows using agricultural industry by-products to produce storage-stable films, rigid materials and coatings that provide the beneficial properties of plastics while being fully compostable in the environment. Their bio-based materials, which have been registered for patent, do not compete with food production, thereby preventing land-use-change. In contrast to conventional (bio)plastics, they do not need any harmful additives, solvents or chemicals and have up to 87% lower CO2 emissions. The innovative material is fully compostable in nature.
Being neither chemically modified nor synthetically polymerized, traceless materials are expected not to fall under the EU Plastics Directive.
While the materials are already competitive in quality to conventional plastics and bioplastics, on industrial production scale they will also be price competitive to conventional plastics, making traceless a solution for people all over the world, in all demographics and income levels. So what’s the catch? Honestly, we couldn’t find one.
Why did we invest?
We have known traceless from the initial idea stage. We are convinced that the company will play an important part in creating a more circular economy. Taking nature as an example, traceless materials is able to integrate into natural material cycles — just like plants and other natural materials. This pioneering approach for a cradle to cradle packaging solution can solve the dilemma of today’s plastic pollution and the need for convenient packaging material.
With traceless’ novel advanced material, the company targets a highly emerging and rapidly increasing market (EUR 7bn TAM, very quickly growing market for biodegradable plastic). The introduction strategy can be situated between a pioneering and fast follower position. On the one hand, traceless can yield the profits of a newly emerging market as one of the first movers within the industry and therefore make full use of the accompanying advantages. On the other hand, the gradual development of a sustainable packaging market over the last few years educated the market and consumers.
traceless’ alternative materials offer several advantages:
- Even when thoughtlessly discarded in nature, they are able to decompose properly and fast.
- They are competitive in quality and price due to the feedstock they use (leftovers from agricultural industries).
- They are water-insoluble & storage-stable, providing the beneficial properties of conventional plastics while being truly sustainable.
- Solid products, storage-stable films, ultra-thin coatings — nearly everything seems possible.
The investment will be used to hire traceless’ core team as well as to build the company’s pilot plant, scaling production from laboratory scale to producing sufficient material to bring first pilots to market in early 2022. Companies from the consumer-facing-goods industry as well as packaging and plastic-conversion companies show great interest in the materials. This comes as legislative pressure and customer demand as well as the urgency to stop negative impact on the environment create a unique situation for traceless to disrupt the plastic market.
We are confident: these two female founders know exactly what they are doing. We will support the team in their mission “Be part of the solution — not pollution!”.
ABOUT PLANET A VENTURES
Founded in 2020, Planet A is an impact investment fund targeting for-profit start-ups that have a measurable positive impact on our planet while building scalable businesses. Planet A partners with European early-stage companies having the potential to scale globally. The start-ups need to contribute to significant positive change in at least one of four key areas: climate mitigation, waste reduction, resource savings and/or biodiversity protection. For its portfolio companies Planet A offers support with:
- Impact measurement: scientific impact assessment, forecasting and visualization,
- The Planet A Network: a diverse network of experienced German and European entrepreneurs,
- Long-term funding: early-stage investments with interest in follow-on rounds.
Planet A’s vision is to make impact investment the new normal.