Premium Beauty News – What is the philosophy behind Sulapac’s alternative materials?
Follow Haimi – We founded Sulapac in 2016 with the aim of fighting plastic pollution and combating climate change. The idea was to develop materials with the advantages of plastics without the drawbacks.
Sulapac’s philosophy is to design products by imitating nature: a biobased material that can replace conventional plastics, but digestible by natural microorganisms so that it decomposes into carbon dioxide, water and biomass, without leaving any traces… like a piece of wood.
Based on this philosophy, we have developed a series of materials made from wood and vegetable binders for applications in four areas: straws, packaging for cosmetics, packaging for nutraceuticals (supplements) and cutlery (forks and knives).
Premium Beauty News – What types of materials are available?
Follow Haimi – For cosmetics and supplements, we currently offer six grades with various bio-based properties and content, including a barrier material for water-based emulsions.
For our first grades it was necessary to have specific moulds, which is why we have developed more universal solutions. Various aesthetics and colors are also available.
Premium Beauty News – But you can also develop tailor-made solutions, as you did for Chanel?
Follow Haimi – Indeed, our core business is to create and test new recipes according to customer needs.
Chanel needed a bespoke creation as they had very specific aesthetic criteria and wanted to incorporate camellia seed shells into the material used to create their bio-based jar lids. We faced specific challenges due to the hydrophilic properties of camellia seed shells.
It took more than 40 tries before we could find the right recipe for the material. It was fascinating to combine co-products such as camellia seed husks and FSC-certified wood chips in this unique high-end material. Now we are able to also use materials from unusual secondary streams without compromising the functionality of the final product. This helps us reduce the environmental footprint of packaging even further.
This achievement is the result of years of collaboration with Chanel’s innovation team, which also resulted in the creation of bio-sourced perfume stoppers for the Les Eaux de Chanel collection.
We tested various recipes for their aesthetic results but also for the result on the machines.
Premium Beauty News – Today you also offer solutions for water-based formulas. What are the limitations of Sulapac materials?
Follow Haimi – Creating a bio-based barrier material for water-based formulations has been a great achievement that has expanded the range of products we can package with Sulapac materials. Tests have even shown better oxygen barrier properties with our material than with conventional plastics!
However, there are still limitations. To date, we do not have bottles or tubes, we are investigating these opportunities, but at the moment our solutions are focused on jars, lids and caps.
Premium Beauty News – How do you see the future of beauty packaging?
Follow Haimi – We now have solid solutions to put an end to pollution and climate change related to packaging.
As plastic production is expected to continue to grow globally, we offer the opportunity to maximize the use of recycled and plant-based polymers, which have the same benefits as conventional plastics without their drawbacks.
We aim to transform the entire packaging industry with the aim of solving the problems posed by conventional plastic! Our solution differs from other bioplastics such as PLA because our material fully degrades in nature, not just under industrial composting conditions. We do not use any harmful or toxic additives that are often found in bioplastics. We are very strict in using materials that mimic natural substances.
Our material is recyclable, mechanically and chemically, in the same streams as other bio-polymers. However, even if the technology is available, the infrastructure is lacking in most countries. We believe that the development of chemical recycling in the world will improve the situation. Also, unlike other plastics, if our material fails in nature, it slowly degrades into carbon dioxide, biomass, water and little else. Under no circumstances will it create any toxic substance or permanent microplastics.
We are currently setting up a consortium in Finland, in partnership with a recycling infrastructure, to create a stream accepting our material which can be recycled efficiently.
We believe we have the potential to change the packaging industry and the different sectors where plastics are used! We are still a small player and need to grow to build our reputation in the market and reach the critical mass to participate in global launches. Great brands such as Chanel are leading the way and helping us to change things.