Biodegradable packaging made from crustaceans

CARAPAC was born out of the University of Sydney’s “Inventing the Future” program, which calls on highly capable graduate students from various disciplines to come together to find solutions to pressing world issues.

The dynamic young founders combined their expertise in chemistry, agriculture and business to tackle the increasingly severe problem of unsustainable packaging in today’s world. The company was formed by Kimberly Bolton, Jared Wood and Michelle Demers. Their integrated solution was CARAPAC– a zero waste, and completely environmentally-friendly solution to packaging from start to finish.

The environment is losing its battle against single-use plastics, a fact made more frightening when one considers that 300 million tons of plastic is produced each year. Biodegradable products seem like the obvious alternative, but many of these products are less environmentally friendly than they seem. Other biodegradable plastic materials such as PLA and PHA are recyclable and industrially compostable, but many recycling plants do not support these plastics and compost facilities remove them, believing them to be normal plastic. These ‘biodegradable’ plastic materials still take up to five years to breakdown and can produce methane, a harmful Greenhouse Gas.

CARAPAC has found a better way. In their quest to eliminate waste, the team researched various plastic alternatives but finally looked to the frozen food processing industry. Food processing plants in Asia and Australia cumulatively produce 8.1 million tons of crustacean waste per year. CARAPAC has created a packaging material built from the chitin and a cellulose contained in crustacean skeletons as a truly biodegradable alternative to plastic food packaging.

There is no need to recycle a CARAPAC product. Simply throw used CARAPAC packaging into your garden, plant pots or home compost and the material will naturally break down in the soil in just 3-6 weeks. As an added bonus the product boosts soil quality. Once CARAPAC material is in the ground it provides the soil with many nutrients and acts as a slow release nitrogen fertilizer, making CARAPAC the world’s only Waste Negative packaging solution.

The CARAPAC solution is an attractive option for retailers as well as consumers as the packaging material has embedded anti-fungal properties that prevents mould or fungi from growing on fresh produce. This effectively extends the shelf life of fresh fruit and vegetables for up to 7 days longer than traditional single-use plastic products.

The price of a CARAPAC packaging product currently is at three times that of traditional plastic, but significantly less than the five times greater price of other ‘biodegradable’ competitors. The start-up is looking to drastically reduce those prices through new production methods, so that so that ethical consumerism is a realistic option for everyone and not just for the wealthy. This cost reduction and the ability to develop more single-use plastic replacements will only be possible with support from corporate partners.

Partnering with CARAPAC is not only about making the world a better place, although that is their core ethos. Investing in an environmentally-conscious start-up also has the potential to be majorly profitable as more and more consumers are rejecting single-use plastic products and seeking out truly biodegradable alternatives, as seen in the massively successful Last Plastic Straw campaign.

CARAPAC’s goal is to provide a solution that doesn’t just replace single-use plastics, but makes the world a better place by eliminating waste while simultaneously improving soil quality. CARAPAC is passionate starting to improve the world now, for generations to come.

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