Xampla has received the Innovate UK Smart Grant alongside 2M Group of Companies in order to scale up the production of its bio-based, biodegradable Morro materials.

Set to complement the existing European partnership between Xampla and 2M Group of Companies, the grant is intended to increase the capacity of its Milton Keynes manufacturing site up to multiple tonnes per day.

Reportedly, three million tonnes of petroleum-based, non-biodegradable functional and barrier coatings for single-use paperboard packaging are produced annually. Such materials can contaminate paperboard recycling streams and lead to environmental damage when the materials are incinerated or sent to landfill.

Morro Coating serves as a drop-in, plant-based alternative. It claims to be fully biodegradable, home compostable, and safe for food contact, and is designed to offer strength and barrier properties against both grease and oxygen.

By 2031, it is hoped that Morro materials could replace up to 10,000 tonnes of single-use plastic coatings and one million kilometres of plastic-coated paperboard.

The Innovate UK Smart Grant funding is expected to help 2M Group of Companies support the commercialization of Morro materials across its customer network in the material and life science industries. Furthermore, it aims to benefit the UK’s self-sufficiency in the biomanufacturing supply chain by creating jobs, encouraging regulatory change, and fulfilling demand for plastic-free solutions.

Alexandra French, CEO of Xampla, said: “We are proud to be awarded this grant from Innovate UK, in collaboration with 2M Group of Companies, to accelerate Morro materials’ next phase of commercialisation and position ourselves as world leaders in sustainable packaging.

“Our partnership will support Morro Coating’s route to market by unlocking critical in-kind support from key customers and enabling access to 2M Group of Companies’ world-leading expertise in manufacturing and distribution.”

Mottie Kessler OBE, chair and CEO of the 2M Group of Companies, continued: “Being awarded the Innovate Smart grant is a fantastic recognition and demonstrates the importance of how industry and new technology can help build a better world for tomorrow.

“We see huge potential with Xampla’s technology and the Morro brand and are excited at the opportunity it presents to support the transformation of our portfolio to more sustainable technologies and to add further value to our customers.”

UKRI and Innovate UK have already funded Xampla via the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge.

“It is incredibly exciting to see Xampla’s innovative material moving into the commercialization stage and the new partnership with 2M Group of Companies to scale up production,” said challenge director Paul Davidson. “The SSPP Challenge aims to change our relationship with plastic packaging and Xampla and its Morro brand, working with 2M Group of Companies, have the potential to do just that.”

The announcement follows the reveal of new Morro materials late last year as a consumer survey described conventional plastic as a ‘material of the past’.

Packaging Europe also spoke to Stanley Mitchell, head of business development at Xampla, to learn more about the company’s partnership with 2M Group to scale up production and distribution of its products.

In another partnership, it also joined forces with ELEMIS to develop biodegradable sampling sachets for skincare products by replacing traditional plastics with biofilm made using leftover waste from ELEMIS’ plant crops.

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