Targeting cosmetics brands, the London-based biotech startup has scooped up a $6.2 million seed round to prove it can scale its petroleum-free, compostable packaging, which “performs like plastic” but breaks down in about a year, the company claims.
Shellworks’ first plastic-like product was developed using shellfish waste, but less than a year into its existence the startup pivoted to using a fat-like substance extracted from bacterial cells, which “behaves like a natural polyester” and is vegan, according to co-founder and chief product officer Amir Afshar.
CEO Insiya Jafferjee, who co-founded Shellworks after spending nearly three years at Apple, said:
Our vision is to break the reliance on the petroleum industry by building a new standard of packaging that is performant, cost competitive and truly sustainable.
So far, Shellworks has worked with beauty brands Bybi. Shellworks is one of the numerous companies busy developing alternatives to plastic packaging, without the nasty 500-year decay time that’s estimated for some petroleum products. Other such businesses include Notpla, which makes seaweed-based pouches for sauces,
London-based VC LocalGlobe, backer of firms like TweetDeck and TransferWise, led Shellworks’ seed round, which will go toward expanding the firm’s team. Other investors in the round include Cambridge-based seed investor Founder Collective as well as former Blue Bottle CEO Bryan Meehan.