Some 55 billion parcels are shipped in bubble wrap every year. Plastic bubble wrap is reliant on fossil fuels and 98% of plastic packaging is single-use. You can imagine the adverse environmental impact of all this plastic.
The founders of Woola were running an online e-commerce store and saw the packaging problem firsthand. The lack of options in sustainable and scalable protective packaging led to them re-discovering wool — an unused resource that is elastic and regulates temperatures and humidity.
The result was their startup, which uses leftover sheep wool to replace bubble wrap. These wool-based packages can be reused, repurposed, or returned by the end user, with the ultimate goal of making the solution “closed-loop” so nothing goes to waste.
Woola opened a production facility in Estonia and launched its first product in December 2020. Wool envelopes were the first products to hit the market. It’s now expanding to the U.K., France and Germany. The next product rolling out in January 2022 is targeted at beverage companies.
They’ve now a raised €2.5 million seed round led by Future Ventures. Future is joined by co-investors Kaarel Kotkas (CEO at Veriff), Janer Gorohhov (co-founder at Veriff), Kristina Lilleõis (VP of People at Veriff), Zem Joaquin (founder of Near Future Summit) and Bryan Meehan (executive chair of Blue Bottle Coffee). Woola’s previous investors include the co-founders of Pipedrive, Bolt and the angel fund Lemonade Stand.
“Bubble wrap has been dominating the packaging industry for ages — but its decline is inevitable,” said Woola’s CEO and co-founder Anna-Liisa Palatu. “The industry is broken for two reasons: fossil fuel reliance and single-use mindset. We need to get rid of both to make packaging more sustainable.” She is joined by co-founders Jevgeni Sirai and Katrin Kabun.
Steve Jurvetson from Future Ventures commented: “While e-commerce is booming, single-use plastic packaging is out of control. Woola can replace it all with beautiful envelopes made from scrap wool that would otherwise be burned or buried. The world needs sustainable alternatives to the petrochemical economy for a healthier future.”
Sheep wool is an unused resource — more than 200,000 tonnes of wool is thrown away in Europe yearly. Woola says this is enough to fulfill 120% of the global bubble wrap demand.
The startup will compete with whitelabel plastic bubble wrap and alternatives like Ranpak and S-Packaging.