Notpla: The startup making packaging disappear

Sustainable packaging startup, Notpla, is formed by a combination of designers, chemists, engineers and entrepreneurs. They create advanced packaging solutions that disappear, naturally. We caught up with them to answer some of our curiosities about Notpla - read on for more.

Photo credit: David Lineton

So, tell us a bit about Notpla…

Notpla is a sustainable packaging start-up at the forefront of creating a new future by pioneering the use of seaweed as an alternative to single-use plastic. We are on a mission to make packaging disappear by leading the way in developing biodegradable & home-compostable packaging made from seaweed and plants, reducing unnecessary plastic in the environment.

We used a unique material and technology and developed our first product “Ooho” in 2013. Ooho is a flexible packaging for beverages and sauces, designed to replace single-use plastic packaging. It is natural, 100% biodegradable and home compostable. Our team, composed of 44 passionate people, have now developed a range of new innovative products that are leveraging the properties of seaweed, among these are a coating for food take-away boxes, flexible film, and paper. 

How did Notpla come about?

The founders, Pierre and Rodrigo, started this project as part of a student project during their Master of Innovation Design Engineering programme. They explored how they could develop a packaging that could be more like a fruit rather than just a container. In 2013, Pierre and Rodrigo made the first Ooho prototypes in their kitchen.  

After their first video went viral in 2013 with millions of views online, they joined Climate KIC, Europe’s largest funded accelerator focused on climate innovation. From there, the team started collaborating with chemists and chemical engineers from Imperial College to test Ooho at running events, festivals and takeaway shops. They soon started working on a scalable manufacturing technology.

In April 2017, they raised their pre-seed round on Crowdcube which helped grow the business, build the first machine, and set up a manufacturing hub in London. Summer 2018 was great - Sky Ocean Ventures invested to accelerate the development of the second product. This really supported us to expand the chemistry, commercial, engineering and design teams. Then, in 2019, the team raised a £4m seed round led by Lupa Systems and Astanor Ventures.

Photo credit: David Lineton

Why does Notpla matter? 

Notpla is so simple yet so ground-breaking. It really is a sustainable solution that could solve one of society’s biggest environmental issues. Notpla has already achieved considerable success developing Ooho, and with great impact. Ooho has replaced over 300,000 single use plastic packaging at top tier events – one example is the London Marathon where 36k Oohos were filled with Lucozade.  

Ooho also works really well for sauces and condiments for the take-away industry, an inherently wasteful industry. The Notpla team successfully activated a project with Just Eat where 60K plastic free sauce sachets were produced. Just Eat fed back that 92% of their customers said they wanted to see more seaweed-based sachets. So, we’re really focusing on impact. Notpla matters because it makes it so easy to adopt more sustainable packaging solutions at scale. The potential it has is phenomenal.  

Just Eat trial - 92% of customers want to see more seaweed sachets such as Ooho

Have you done any other exciting trials with Ooho? 

Besides Lucozade and Just Eat who we already mentioned – Notpla have worked with Tropicana and Lipton at some top-tier events. At the 2019 Cocktail Week we worked on a marketing campaign with Pernod Ricard which reached 552 million people – edible shots, it was very popular! We are also excited to be running pilots with companies like Unilever and Pepsico to support them in meeting their SDG goals.  

London Marathon: 36K Oohos were filled with Lucozade!

And who’s your dream customer?

We do not have a dream customer, but we are looking for companies that are sharing our values and purpose. We are focused on more premium applications currently, but our ambition is to have mass-adoption of our materials because we are motivated by making an impact on single-use plastic. In terms of industries, we are doing an increasing amount of work in food, cosmetics, personal and home-care.

Wow. We'll bet you're curious to find out more about Notpla after reading that? Head over to their website here.


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