60 ways to reduce your brand's plastic footprint in 2023

Circular solutions to the plastic problem

There is no silver bullet when it comes to solving the problem of plastic pollution. While there are many potential solutions, such as reducing plastic use and increasing recycling rates, tackling this issue requires innovation along the entire supply chain and waste management.

From how plastic is produced and used to how it is disposed of, every stage of the life cycle of plastic must be carefully considered to make a lasting impact. Only by addressing the problem at every step can we hope to reduce the amount of plastic pollution in the world effectively.

CleanHub helps you to compensate for your current footprint and of course, we are always on the lookout for other great ideas and solutions, too.

We curated business models most useful for startup and SME brands and divided them into sustainable packaging materials, circular packaging systems, useful tools, and expert consultancies focused on sustainable packaging.

This is an evergreen document, and we don't claim to have found all solutions. Please do comment on any missing ones below, and we will add them to the list. And please consider the Life Cycle Assessment if you plan on switching packaging material.

Sustainable packaging materials

Plant-based packaging

  • Xampla: This University of Cambridge spin-out makes natural alternatives to single-use plastics using plant proteins.
  • Embelium: The french company creates customizable packaging using a combination of fibers from agricultural origin and mycelium.
  • Biorgani uses plant-based resins to offer competitively priced biopolymers for packaging production. 
  • Sana Packaging provides hemp-based packaging solutions.
  • Sustainabl: The Hong Kong-based company offers compostable packaging from refibr pulp.
  • Noissue offers a range of home compostable packaging options that are easily customizable. They start at low minimum order quantities to make their packaging a viable alternative for small brands.
  • Landpack: The German company provides straw-based insulated packaging.

Bio-based packaging

  • Lactips: A range of sustainable packaging from water-soluble solutions and biopolymer composites to bio-based injection molded packaging.
  • Tipa: Flexible and fully compostable packaging for the food industry.
  • Panda Packaging: Using biomimicry to develop sustainable packaging for food and hospitality businesses from bamboo and other natural materials.
  • Invisible: Water soluble and biodegradable non-plastic bags and flexible packaging.
  • Sulapac: Biodegradable packaging from Finland focussed on the cosmetics and food service industry.
  • Evoware: Bags, sachets, cutlery, and straws for the food and food service industry made from natural resources such as cassava.

Packaging from organic waste and agricultural residues

  • Traceless: Bio-circular packaging using natural biopolymers from agricultural waste - leaving no trace.
  • Shellworks: Made from up-cycled waste, Shellwork’s packaging is designed to degrade, turning it into a non-polluting fertilizer at its end of life.
  • Craste: Packaging from crop residues in India that are otherwise burnt.
  • Woola: The Estonian company uses waste wool to produce an alternative to bubble wrap.
  • Bio-Lutions turn agricultural residues into self-binding, biodegradable, and compostable single-use packaging without the need for binding agents.

Edible Packaging

  • Notpla (prev. Skipping Rock Lab): An edible bubble designed to replace single-use plastic packaging for liquids.

Packaging from seaweed

  • Biotic: Using macroalgae to create fully bio-based, fully biodegradable PHBV polymers.
  • Loli ware: Packaging materials made from regenerative, carbon-capturing, and ocean-farmed seaweed.
  • SoluBlue: Seaweed-based, food-grade biopolymers. Biodegrades after use, even in seawater.
  • Sway make home-compostable packaging derived from seaweed.
  • Kelpi use the properties of seaweed to create compostable, marine-safe, low-carbon bioplastic packaging.
  • Oceanium: The Scottish company develops a range of products from sustainably sourced seaweed, they are just moving into the space of packaging materials.

Recyclable circular packaging

  • Nopla: Norwegian manufacturer of recyclable, injection-molded plastic products.
  • Chocal: Development of sustainable molded packaging following the cradle-to-cradle principle.
  • NoWaste Technology: Coated paper packaging that can be recycled just like plain paper.

Customized Platform

  • One five: The German company develops circular packaging in record time using a platform-like approach to enable customized solutions to packaging challenges. 

Reusable packaging system for shipping and delivery

Reusable system for the food and beverage service industry

Useful tools

Sourcing of secondary material

Deposit schemes

  • CupLoop and Circleback enable a private 'Pfand' type deposit scheme for various packaging.

Expert consultancies

Consulting firms

  • HolyPoly: Full-service partner for the use of circular plastics.
  • Sphera: Integrating circular systems into companies' business models.
  • Circularity Edge: Helps companies to transition to the circular economy.
  • Thinking Circular: Think tank that engages different stakeholders around circular solutions.
  • Circelligence by BCG: Helps companies to drive more value from fewer resources by transitioning to more circular business models. 
  • Avieco by Accenture: Turning circular economy principles and turn them into practical supply chain actions.

Individual consultants

  • Felix Gass: Packaging strategy consultant
  • Martin Weick: Independent packaging consultant for startups and SMEs
  • Ken Alston: Expert consultant on implementing circularity concepts

Freeing the planet from plastic pollution requires both: Reduction of plastic waste and increased collection and recycling rates of plastic. With CleanHub, we focus on increasing collection rates.

One pro tip: If you care about the environment, not just how you look to the outside world, PLEASE talk to the waste management and recycling companies in the markets you sell to. They can tell you if the material you put on the market can be kept in the loop.