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Sulapac: A Sustainable Solution for Single-Use Plastic


Single-use plastic has become a hot-button issue for the world. With 12.7 million tonnes of plastics thrown into the ocean a year, the idea of sustainability takes the limelight.

This is exactly what Suvi Haimi and Laura Kyllönen tried to do in designing Sulapac - the ultimate hero platform making a difference in the fight for a plastic-free Earth.

Sulapac is a revolutionary sustainable material that ensures both aesthetics and superb functionalities. Natural to the core, Sulapac biodegrades in its entirety, leaving no microplastic traces behind. Even more, the material is processed with the help of existing plastic machinery, thus redefining their purpose. Sulapac is a non-toxic circular solution, primarily made of wood and plant-based materials. From straws to production materials and beyond, the company ensures full sustainability, compostability and a non-toxic alternative to traditional plastics.

Turning a new leaf in the production book is Sulapac’s arch mission - here’s how Suvi and Laura ensured their solution piqued the industry’s curiosity!

A Tale of Two Biochemists

Suvi Haimi is the current co-founder and CEO of Sulapac. Her interest in a plastic waste-free future began with her love for Nordic nature. Since a very young age, she has been environmentally conscious, which is what drove her to obtain a PhD in Medical Biomaterials later on.

Before starting Sulapac, Suvi worked in various leadership positions at universities in Finland and the Netherlands. Her love for academia and medicine formed the backbone of Sulapac. The same was true of her motivation to save the oceans, and the planet as a whole.

Laura Kyllönen’s background is a little less known, but her devotion to the environment started at a similarly young age. As a teenager, she designed her first eco-friendly cosmetic jar made from biodegradable polymer and wood. This prompted her to take up microbiology at University, where she eventually obtained a Ph.D. in Biomaterials.

Throughout the years, Laura has been repeatedly told that her ideas were not prone to success. This was a major determining factor in Laura’s decision to dedicate her life to finding environmentally friendly solutions for animals, people, and nature. She is currently the CTO and co-founder of Sulapac.

There is no questioning the two founders’ persistence and perseverance when it comes to creating Sulapac – nor how far their fight for a great cause led them to an incredible invention.

The Reality of Plastic

The story of Sulapac starts with a bathroom that Suvi and Laura shared as roommates. One morning, while getting ready for the day, the sudden realization of their surroundings struck them. Pretty much every item they were using was made or had plastic in it. This quickly turned into an exploration of their everyday lives, and a deep dive into how dependable humans are on plastic as a material.

As two friends that specialized in biochemistry, Laura and Suvi made science the forefront of their ambitions. So, they decided to look into the whats, hows, and whys of using plastic. What they found, in turn, was that the current definition of plastic (and recyclable plastic) was both unclear and incorrect.

This led to them kickstart a project that aimed to redefine what recyclable plastics are, by separating them into microplastic-releasing and microplastic-free materials. They found that most materials that were once considered ‘recyclable’ were actually biodegradable only to a degree. Moreover, when burned in landfills, the majority of plastic products release a high concentration of carbon dioxide and other toxic fumes into the air, at a dreadful consequence to the environment and the welfare of humans.

In 2016, Laura and Suvi’s research resulted in the design of a single material, named Sulapac. In essence, it is a biodegradable, microplastic-free material that can be used to make all kinds of products on the market - as an alternative to plastic.

Armed with ample knowledge in microbiology, Suvi and Laura both knew that no plastic is 100% recyclable. This is why their goal was for Sulapac to release as little toxic waste as possible when burnt. In addition, in cases where a Sulapac product would happen to reach the ocean, it would degrade fully, without the materials harming the local flora and fauna.

Sulapac was first approved in 2018, which is when Suvi and Laura first launched their mission to save the world from plastic waste.

Sustainability is the Forefront of Innovation

Sulapac was the first-ever fully biodegradable packing material on a mass-producible scale. Even so, it initially proved difficult to find investors in a world full of innovative solutions for ocean plastics pollution.

In 2016, they looked towards Make Helsinki, a major communications firm that helps startups get on the right footing in the world of online and offline product placement.

It was here that the packaging and design ideas were first born. It was also where the recognizable Nordic stones and hardwood look were crafted.

Their first recognition came in 2017 when Sulapac was crowned winner of the best green packaging at the LUXE PACK Green Awards in Monaco. In 2018, they received their ISO 9001 Certification, recognizing their quality management system standard.

This led to two Finnish brands using Sulapac in their products, which is what garnered attention from Wired UK when they rated the 100 best start-ups for 2018. In addition to this, Sulapac also won the world championship competition of packing with Kohinoor jewelry in 2019.

Suvi and Laura’s focus on sustainable packaging is what created this drop-in solution and made for a universal recipe. Their dedication to creating a base mold ended up garnering a lot of support, mainly because of how easily adaptable the material is to any product.

The Backings of the Industry

Because the focus was initially on Finland and the neighboring Nordic countries, most of the first investors were Finnish businesses and private investors, based in Finland. One major contributor among these was Business Finland, which took its chance on the company in 2017.

However, Sulapac soon received over €1,900,000 from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 SME Grant in July 2018. In December of that same year, fashion giant and luxury house Chanel signed on as an investor to have their products become more environmentally friendly.

Throughout 2019, Sulapac secured funding from various other businesses, including Mousse Partners, Sky Ocean, Bonnier Ventures, and Lifeline Ventures. These funds, combined with some private and anonymous investors, earned Sulapac a staggering €15,000,000 worth of investment.

Because of the wide range of industries that are supporting Sulapac, there is no doubt that their determination will overshadow any anxieties surrounding the brand’s future. It is also Suvi’s hope that as more industries sign onto Sulapac, they can help the platform succeed further in its purpose - to eradicate plastic pollution on a global scale.

A World Without Plastic

Throughout this journey, Suvi and Laura have seen major success in Sulapac. Their simple 6-step program for businesses now has them catering to over 100 companies, their areas ranging anywhere from food to beauty and fashion.

Sulapac is continuously growing in the world of eco-friendly materials as a recognized brand on the market. However, the journey for Suvi and Laura does not end here. In fact, their hope is that this is just the beginning of a plastic-free world for many companies, seeing as their platform continues growing day by day.

Their life goal is to save the oceans and change the current business model from cheap to sustainable. Through Sulapac, Suvi and Laura are only just breaking the ice for environmentally conscious companies – all the while saving ice on the polar caps.