Emerald Technology Ventures, along with Beiersdorf, Chevron, Henkel, and WM, has launched a venture-backed investment fund for start-ups focused on the sustainability of packaging at various stages of its lifecycle. The goal will be to accelerate the development of advanced materials and industrial technologies by connecting start-ups with established companies. 

The industrial and consumer goods companies will join the fund as founding limited partners, led by Emerald, which says it will seek investment in sectors across all stages of the circular economy ranging from raw materials to plastics recycling.

The fund will target investment in six categories: low footprint feedstocks; functional and smart materials; design for reuse and recycling; collection, sorting, cleaning and recycling technologies; digital and connected solutions; and new businesses models (such as packaging as a service).

According to Emerald, the fund will aim to invest in early-stage and fast-growing start-ups around the world through the allocation of a select number of seed investments. Like other Emerald funds, the company says that investors will be able to join at their discretion.

On a regular basis, the multi-disciplinary team behind the fund will apparently measure and report on its portfolio companies’ efforts to reduce both greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and waste. Emerald adds that achieving quantifiable impact is a major target of the fund, aligning with the company’s recent inclusion into the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.

The fund will sit alongside Emerald’s existing vehicles targeting energy, water, and industrial innovation. The company explains that this is part of its “open innovation” approach that connects start-ups with established companies.

Gina Domanig, managing partner at Emerald, comments: “The fund is a recognition that the packaging industry plays an increasingly proactive role in the shift toward a circular, low-carbon economy.

“As we reimagine the future of packaging, we’re excited to join with giants of the global industrial landscape in a mission to supercharge the technologies that will make that transformation a success.”

Michael Becker, head of global packaging R&D at Beiersdorf, adds: “As part of our corporate transformation towards sustainability, the packaging of our products plays a central role.

“As a partner of Emerald Technology Ventures, we aim to collaborate with dedicated start-ups to identify and implement new climate friendly packaging technologies. We share the vision of a circular economy and will, together, move this vision towards reality.”

According to Jim Gable, vice president of innovation and president of technology ventures for Chevron: “Emerald Technology Ventures’ sustainable packaging fund has the potential to drive the wider adoption of a lower carbon circular economy.

“It aligns well with our Future Energy Fund, which focuses on industrial decarbonization, emerging mobility, energy decentralization and the growing circular economy. We’re an existing partner in Emerald’s industrial innovation fund and glad to support this new sustainable packaging fund.”

Paolo Bavaj, head of corporate venturing at Henkel Adhesive Technologies, concludes: “Over the course of our partnership with Emerald, we have become familiar with their skilled and diversified team of experts.

“We are convinced that they are a strong partner who can help us gain access to start-ups in a broad variety of fields, from material and technology innovation to recycling improvement.”

Earlier this month, Amcor announced that it would be launching Amcor Lift-Off, an open-call initiative aimed at supporting seed-stage start-ups, also with a focus on innovative and sustainable packaging solutions. Up to five finalists could be awarded US$250,000 as a convertible loan, as well as support and resources, with the fund’s goal being to help start-ups to refine their products, build partnerships, and scale across geographies.