Food waste and food packaging occupy a significant portion of the world’s landfills. AlterPacks addresses both issues with technology that turns food waste into takeout boxes and other containers. The Singapore-based startup has raised $1 million in pre-seed funding led by Plug and Play APAC and Seed Capital, with participation from Earth Venture Capital and angel investor Alice Foo.
The new financing will be used for the commercialization of AlterPacks, including manufacturing and delivery, in markets such as Asia, Australia and Europe.
Founded in 2019 to tackle single-use plastics, AlterPacks’ main raw materials are brewer’s spent grains, a by-product of the production of food products such as beer. Spent grains are usually used for animal feed, fertilizer or disposal. Through the manufacturing process, AlterPacks turns used grains into food containers that can be molded into a variety of shapes, are freezer and microwave safe, and home compostable.
Founder and CEO Karen Cheah told australiabusinessblog.com that she became interested in developing alternatives to single-use packaging when she was traveling and saw communities struggling with the amount of discarded plastic packaging and food waste. AlterPacks uses brewer’s grains because they are readily available.
“The properties of the grains used and the amount of grains available worldwide were two key factors,” she said. “By upcycling the grains, we create new economic value and bring what would be a by-product that would have been discarded as animal feed or sent to landfills and compost back into the supply chain as food containers that can be used to replace disposable plastic items. .”
Cheah explained that the process of converting brewer’s spent grains into AlterPacks food containers is similar to paper pulp production. AlterPacks can produce containers to scale with automated machinery that cleans raw materials, mixes the formulation and then compresses them into various shapes of containers.
AlterPacks containers have been commercially available since December. The go-to-market strategy is a B2B model and involves working with distribution partners who sell supplies to F&B businesses such as restaurants and hotels. AlterPacks containers have been on the market since December. The startup is also developing biopellets as a replacement for petroleum-based resins in manufacturing machines. They are made from used grains and other agricultural waste such as coconut husks.
In a statement on Plug and Play APAC’s investment, managing partner Jupe Tan said: “We learned about AlterPacks while searching for relevant startups for the Alliance to End Plastic Waste Innovation Program and they have received significant interest from the Alliance members, who is of course a signal for us to do further due diligence on investments we are pleased to have succeeded in tapping into our partnership with SEEDS Capital to co-lead and invest in our first ever sustainability startup in APAC and we hope that this will be the first of many other sustainability investments with SEEDS Capital.”