Is the beauty industry ready to move away from single-use plastics? Shellworks bets on it.
The London-based biotech startup, which focuses on cosmetics brands, has landed 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 revolved around using a fatty substance extracted from bacterial cells, which “behaves like a natural polyester” and vegan, according to co-founder and chief product officer Amir Afshar.
Like it fifth harmonyShellworks kept its name despite the lineup change.
“Our vision is to break the dependency on the petroleum industry by building a new packaging standard that is high-performance, cost-competitive and truly sustainable,” said CEO Insiya Jafferjee, co-founder of Shellworks after nearly three years at Apple.
Until now, Shellworks has worked with beauty brands bybi and See Moreas well as fragrance company Sana Jardin† Down the line, the startup says it could expand into other areas, including cleaning products.
Shellworks is one of many companies developing alternatives to plastic packaging, without the nasty 500-year decay estimated for some petroleum products. Other such companies are Notpla, which makes seaweed-based sachets for sauces, Avantiumwhich develops sugar-based containers for soda and beer, and Cruz Foam, which turns shrimp shells into a Styrofoam alternative.
The packaging is the fault of about 70% of CO2 emissions from the beauty sector, according to the British Beauty Council, an industry group.
London-based VC LocalGlobe, funder of companies such as TweetDeck and TransferWise, led Shellworks’ starting round, which will lead to expansion of the company’s team. Other investors in the round include Cambridge-based seed investor Founder Collective and former Blue Bottle CEO Bryan Meehan.