A Tech Startup Tackles The Plastic Problem By Reinventing Paper

by Rudy Sanchez on 04/28/2020 | 2 Minute Read

People have been making paper from plants since the Chinese invented the process in 105 AD. A closely guarded secret for centuries, paper is now an essential material used in numerous applications. However, it is not without its limitations. Synthetic materials like plastic can sometimes do a better job of containing moisture and blocking gases from entering or escaping. 

Of course, plastic has its share of problems as well, chief among them being the environmental impact of its widespread use. One Melbourne-based startup claims to have re-engineered the basic structure of paper, making the material’s performance on par with plastic in some cases, while also being sustainable.

Editorial photograph

Startup Varden describes their product “Paperseal” as a high-tech version of paper that comes from agricultural and lumber waste, or as they put it, “residue.” Paperseal products carry an origami-like seal as a product mark and count coffee pods as its first application. Varden promises that Paperseal capsules do as well a job at keeping coffee as fresh as metal or plastic pods but are 100% compostable.

What’s more, Paperseal caught the attention of venture capital fund managers Horizon Ventures, and they’ve secured $2.2 million in funding to further develop their sustainable material.

Much like the Chinese papermakers of old, Varden isn’t providing many details about the science behind their technology, describing it as “reverse engineering” of natural structures and as “the Tesla of paper,” referring to Elon Musk’s electric car company. Regardless, material innovation is still going strong and promises to be the ever-evolving story that shapes the world of packaging.

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