French luxury fashion and beauty company Chanel is investing in Sulapac, a Finnish startup that makes sustainable packaging from a trademarked biodegradable material.
Sulapac products use a biodegradable, microplastic-free material made from FSC-certified wood chips and natural binders that the company says biodegrades completely without leaving any microplastics behind.
Co-founders Suvi Haimi and Laura Kyllönen are biochemists specializing in biomaterials. They started the company as a way to offer a natural and sustainable plastic alternative. The two women say that manufacturers can easily replace plastic with Sulapac’s materials because it can be used on most production lines.
French luxury house Chanel is the first investor from the cosmetics industry, the startup says. “Chanel is definitely one of the forerunners in the luxury segment as they want to invest on latest sustainable material and technology innovations,” said Sulapac co-founder and CEO Suvi Haimi. “Our mission to save this world from the plastic waste just became a big step closer.”
Environmental sustainability is a priority for Chanel, according to the company’s latest Report to Society. In 2015, Chanel adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Last year the company collaborated with their long-standing glass manufacturer on a lighter Gabrielle fragrance bottle that Chanel says has a 40% lower carbon footprint than a typical 50-milliliter perfume bottle made by the same manufacturer.
“Since the beginning, Chanel has always tried to develop the long-term value of the brand,” the Report to Society says. “As a company, we recognized early on that we can only secure this outcome if, at the same time, we contribute long-term value and sustainability to the environmental and social ecosystems in which we operate.”
Sulapac Raises Funding, Develops Partnerships
After launching in 2016, Sulapac has raised funding from investors that include Lifeline Ventures, Ardent Venture, Eerik Paasikivi, Ilkka Herlin and Saara Kankaanrinta, Planvest, and Mika Ihamuotila. A-round funding is currently planned for 2019.
Previously Sulapac and the pulp and paper manufacturer Stora Enso signed a joint agreement. This week, the two companies demonstrated a new sustainable drinking straw in Helsinki at the startup industry event Slush 2018. Based on Sulapac’s biocomposite material made of wood and natural binders, the straws are designed to be industrially composted as well as biodegradable in a marine environment.