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Singapore-based AlterPacks turns food waste into food containers TechCrunch

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Food waste and food packaging take up a significant portion of landfills around the world. AlterPacks tackles both issues with technology that turns food waste into take-out boxes and other containers. The Singapore-based startup has raised $1 million in pre-seed funding led by Plug and Play APAC and Seed Capital, with participation from Earth Venture Capital and angel investor Alice Foo.

The new funding will be used for commercialization of AlterPacks, including production and supply, in markets including Asia, Australia and Europe.

Founded in 2019 to fight against single-use plastics, AlterPacks’ main raw material is spent grains, a byproduct of making foods like beer. Spent kernels are usually used for animal feed, fertilizer, or disposed of. Through its manufacturing process, AlterPacks turns spent grains into food containers that can be molded into different shapes, are freezer and microwave safe, and home compostable.

Founder and CEO Karen Cheah told TechCrunch that she became interested in developing alternatives to disposable containers when she traveled and saw communities struggling with the amount of plastic containers and discarded food waste. AlterPacks uses depleted beans because they are readily available.

AlterPacks founders Steven Tan, Karen Cheah and Herbin Chia

“The properties of spent grain and the volume of grain available globally were two key factors,” she said. “By recycling grains, we are creating new economic value and putting what would have been a by-product disposed of as animal feed, or headed to landfills and compost, back into the supply chain as food containers that can be used to replace disposable plastic items.”

Cheah explained that the process of converting spent grains into AlterPacks food containers is similar to making paper pulp. AlterPacks can manufacture containers on a large scale with automated machinery that cleans the raw materials, mixes its formulation and then presses it into different container shapes.

Containers of AlterPacks have been commercially available since December. Its go-to-market strategy is a B2B model and includes working with distribution partners who sell supplies to F&B businesses like restaurants and hotels. AlterPacks containers have been on the market since December. The startup is also developing bio-pellets as a replacement for petroleum-based resins used in manufacturing machinery. They are made from spent grains and other agricultural waste such as coconut shells.

In a statement on the Plug and Play APAC investment, Managing Partner Jupe Tan said, “We got to know AlterPacks while researching relevant startups for the Alliance to End Plastic Waste innovation program and they have generated significant interest from Alliance members, which is naturally a signal for us to do more investment due diligence. We are pleased to have successfully leveraged our partnership with SEEDS Capital to co-lead and invest in our first-ever sustainability startup in APAC and hope this will be the first of many more sustainability investments with SEEDS Capital. .

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