Melbourne-based material sciences startup Great Wrap has landed international investment to innovate materials and scale up production of its upcycled compostable stretch wrap for home and industrial use.
Great Wrap has closed its Series A funding round with strategic impact and sustainability investors, achieving a total raise of $24 million. The cash injection will enable co-founders Jordy and Julia Kay to commercialise the company's full range of compostable wraps – Cling Wrap, Catering Wrap and Pallet Wrap.
The company first commercialised its wrap in 2020, following a successful pilot trial of a stretch wrap made from potato processing waste with the performance properties of conventional plastic stretch wrap, but importantly, that breaks down to carbon and water. It moved into its first facility in 2021.
Part of the equity funding – $11million – comes from Darren Thomas (MD of Thomas Food International), W23 (Woolworths’ venture capital division), Grill’d Innovation Fund, Giant Leap, Small Giants, Thai Wah Ventures, GroundSwell, Trail Mix Ventures and Springbank Collective, plus a raft of other impact investors from Australia, the USA and Singapore.
Bringing the total raise to $24 million, Rabobank’s asset financing arm, DLL Group, has amplified the investment with $13 million of non-dilutive capital.
The first step for Great Wrap has been to expand into a new 12,000 sqm facility in Tullamarine, with the capacity to manufacture 30,000 tonnes of compostable stretch wrap by the end of 2023, which will make the company Australia’s largest stretch wrap manufacturer. The move took place in January 2022, with the asset financing established at the same time which allowed the company to have the machinery purchased, shipped and commissioned in advance of the equity raise.
The new factory marks phase one in the shift to total vertical integration, enabling Great Wrap to process local waste from one of Australia's largest potato processors.
Phase two will see the commissioning of a first-of its kind biorefinery on site, to produce the biopolymer PHA from which the wrap is made. It's expected to be completed in 2023, and have the capacity to upcycle nearly 50,000 tonnes of local potato waste annually.
According to Jordy Kay, the expansion and plant upgrade will see 100 jobs created in Victoria alone.
"The equity raise allows Great Wrap to grow our products, team and launch our products in new regions as well as continue the research and commercialisation of new technology and biorefinery,” Jordy told PKN.
“The biorefinery setup will also be a huge step forward for our state – we’re excited to be bringing biotechnology and advanced manufacturing to the forefront,” Jordy said, noting that the custom-built biorefinery, which is still in the planning phase, will be the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere when it is up and running. It will be located at the Tullamarine facility.
Julia Kay, recently named Young Victorian of the Year, said, “The world’s largest companies are making plastic reduction commitments to end plastic waste, but unfortunately we will not recycle our way out of this mess. Our technology can support this transition to a safer and cleaner future, and we now have the capacity to manufacture all of Australia’s stretch wrap, thanks to our impact aligned investors who’ve helped create a brighter future for all.
“By the end of this year we'll be catering to the home, hospitality and business sectors where we have built strong brand awareness. We have a pipeline of companies who are excited and willing to make the switch away from petroleum-based stretch wrap and we're even seeing government regulations regarding plastic use appear around the country.
“It's a promising time for Great Wrap and every Australian business in the sustainability sector.”
Commenting on the pallet wrap's compostability, which would require industrial composting facilities, Julia told PKN that the innovation team is working on a collection solution with Australian composting facilities, saying, “When we launch our pallet wrap later this year we will be able to share more about the systems we have in place.”
Asked what level of interest has there been from industry in ordering the pallet wrap and what is motivating the interest, Jordy said: “We have a long list of small, medium and large businesses across the country and globe. The strongest driver is that everyone understands how important it is to be adopting sustainable systems within their business.”
In terms of costs of the compostable pallet wrap versus conventional pallet wrap, the duo said cost is purely dependent on the quantities that the customer is purchasing at: “Our current product competes on par with petroleum based products for small and medium size businesses. Our future formula from the biorefinery will be at price parity, even for large enterprises purchasing large volumes.”
Looking at furure expansion plans, Julia and Jordy said, “We are always open to funding from impact and vision aligned investors in driving growth into international markets to ensure that we as a business can positively impact the environment in a meaningful way.”
While targeting Australian waste issues for now, Great Wrap also has its eyes set on international expansion next month. The company has plans to sell its wrap in the US in 2022 and Europe in 2023, with a focus on markets that have world-leading impact focused consumers, legislation and strong corporate ESG mandates.