Finnish sustainable packaging start-up wins circular economy prize

Finnish start-up Sulapac has won the 2017 Green Alley Award for its innovative alternative packaging for cosmetics products.

Earlier this month (9 November) in Berlin, Sulapac, the brainchild of Suvi Haimi and Laura Kyllönen, beat five other finalists from France, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands to win Europe’s first award for circular economy start-ups launched in 2014 by Green Alley Investment GmbH and the German crowdfunding platform Seedmatch.

Made from wood and natural adhesives, the packaging developed by Sulapac is fully biodegradable, toxin free and made from entirely sustainably-sourced materials, while also maintaining a stylish aesthetic.

Finnish sustainable packaging start-up wins circular economy prize
Sulapac founders Laura Kyllönen (left) and Suvi Haimi (right) accept their award

Sulapac is a particularly timely winner given the pervasion of the issue of plastic pollution into the public consciousness in recent times, with more and more beginning to open their eyes to the consequences of the eight million tonnes of plastic entering the marine environment every year.

Speaking following the award, Suvi Haimi, CEO of Sulapac, said: “This autumn has been incredible, and we are truly honoured to receive these international recognitions. Sulapac packages replace plastic with a fully biodegradable patented solution. We have invested in designs and premium appearance to offer a truly interesting alternative to cosmetics and luxury brands.”

The judges were suitably impressed with the one-year-old start-up’s offering as, Jan Patrick Schulz, CEO of the Landbell Group and part of the jury committee, explained: “The decision was not an easy one, but we agreed on Sulapac in the end because of its huge impact on one of the biggest problems of our times – plastic waste. Sulapac has developed a high-quality material that meets the diverse challenges of today’s market.

“Just one year old, the start-up demonstrates how an idea can be successfully implemented and accelerated in a very short time. In Finland, for example, the cosmetics line Niki Newd is already using jars by Sulapac for its products. We see great potential in this packaging solution and look forward to seeing Sulapac on the shelves of local drugstores.”

2017 finalists

This year’s award saw over 200 applicants from across Europe whittled down to six finalists who then participated in a series of workshops and networking events in Berlin, before pitching their business ideas to the competition’s jury.

The Green Alley Award aims to recognise new business ideas that drive innovation in the waste and resources sector while promoting circular economy values. Last year's winner, Green City Solutions, a German air purification start-up, impressed the judges with its 'City Tree' idea, an installation powered through photovoltaics and rainwater that uses a combination of special moss cultures and vascular plants to reduce air pollution, claiming to create a smog-free area with a radius of 50 metres around the installation.

As this year’s winners, Sulapac will receive €30,000 (£26,600) in cash and services, including a cash prize of €7,000 (£6,200), one-on-one mentoring from start-up coach Ron Immink, dedicated PR support for at least six months and the opportunity to pitch to the Green Alley management board for investment.

The remaining five finalists of the 2017 awards were:

  • Newcy, a French start-up that has created a reusable alternative to single-use coffee cups that can be collected from designated bins to be cleaned and reused.
  • Mimergy, an Irish company turning rubber from waste tyres into sustainable fuels and chemicals.
  • Solmove, a German-based company that has developed a range of solar-powered street modules that can be laid on pre-existing road surfaces to power electric cars.
  • Sustonable, a Dutch start-up that has created a new composite material for construction and design from PET and quartz, which is harder than granite and100 per cent recyclable.
  • Sulfotools, a German company that has developed a way of producing peptides, used in the chemical, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, using water instead of harmful solvents.

You can find out more about the 2017 Green Alley Award on the award’s website.

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