Woola has raised €2.5 million in a funding round and is expanding its wool-based alternative to protective plastic packaging into the luxury goods market.

Reportedly, only around 14% of 141 million tonnes of plastic produced every year is collected for recycling, and a smaller amount still is recycled in practice. Up to 90% of sheep wool is also said to be burned across Europe, with 200,000 tonnes of wool that is too coarse for use in the textile industry apparently going unused every year.

In response, Woola is converting wool into protective packaging intended to phase out plastic equivalents. It is broadening its original focus on bubble wrap replacements in e-commerce to packaging for the luxury goods market, with the new funds set to help grow the company’s sales and marketing team.

“We founded Woola to help stop the use of fossil fuels,” said Woola CEO and co-founder Anna-Liisa Palatu. “We are replacing protective plastic packaging with sustainable alternatives made of wool that work just as well, but look much better.

“Two Houses of the LVMH Group are already using Woola packaging to replace plastic, and we are implementing a circular pilot program with one of them. We are proud to be working with a Group that, with its Maisons, is reinventing the codes of packaging to ultimately ban fossil-based plastics.”

The funding round has been led by Metaplanet, followed by Woola investors Future Ventures and Lemonade Stand and new angel investors. Metaplanet is the investment fund of Jaan Talliin, one of four founding engineers of Skype.

“Beauty often lies in simplicity,” said Rauno Miljand, managing partner at Metaplanet. “Woola is rescuing a natural resource – sheep wool – from ending up in landfills and using it to help retailers, from e-commerce to the top companies in the world of aesthetics, reach their sustainability targets. All of this is done via a product innovation cycle and a quick feedback loop with the customers.”

The news comes after Finnish start-up Fiberwood received seed funding from Metsä Spring earlier this year. The money was set to scale up production capabilities at Fiberwood’s pilot plant, wherein side streams of the mechanical wood industry are converted into insulation and packaging materials.

More recently, Metsä Spring has led a funding round for Swedish start-up FineCell to help develop and plan a demo production facility for its technology, which converts dry pulp fibre into added-value biomaterial.

Additionally, market pulp supplier Rottneros AB is investing in and becoming a co-owner of Blue Ocean Closures. Their partnership is expected to drive further development for fibre-based packaging materials.

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