Meet the startup: pFIBRE!

pFIBRE (p is silent and stands for plant), a Singapore headquartered company, offers sustainable, fully biodegradable B2B packaging solutions for circular economies. pFIBRE wanted to set up a European marketing and R&D office. A startup visa was necessary. Oost NL is an official startup facilitator and helped pFIBRE, along with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), go through the process successfully. In this sixth episode of our international startup series we would like you to meet pFIBRE.

Photo pFIBRE film

pFIBRE has developed a technology to manufacture plant-based packaging films that replicate properties of single-use plastic films. These films are completely marine biodegradable, carbon neutral, and can be water soluble and insoluble based on the application. pFIBRE has ensured that their technology (blend/process) works on existing machines in the ecosystem to keep switching costs low and make this a scalable model.

Prakruti Kodali, Founder and CEO of pFIBRE explains: "We’re helping leading players in FMCG (Unilever), F&B (Nestle), Retail (Grab Mart), and Maritime (Schulte Group/Maersk) rethink some of their greatest ocean polluting applications to significantly reduce their carbon footprints and achieve their sustainability goals. We recently delivered pilot orders to Unilever and Nestle."

"We’ve achieved many of the desired properties for the sachet/cling film and soluble pod (detergent/dishwasher) applications and are partnering with Wageningen University to make minor modifications to the existing technology to perfect it."

"Over the next 6-9 months, we are focussing on scaling, certifications, and patenting. We are in the process of drafting a patent, in The Netherlands and Singapore, and have received approvals for two certificates – OK Biobased and OK SOIL – from TUV Austria and are awaiting the results of the others, which we are confident we will receive by the end of this year. We are also applying for food safety certificates – FDA, EFSI, and HALAL."

So far ...

pFIBRE is already collaborating with Wageningen University & Research, Unilever Innovation Centre, and Nestle Institute for Packaging Design on developing biobased and biodegradable packaging material. pFIBRE has achieved over 80% of the functional properties required for packaging materials to be reliable.

Prakruti Kodali explains further: "Some solutions in the market come close, however they are extremely energy-intensive at the initial stage and require additional equipment to make. pFIBRE films have been designed keeping the existing ecosystem in mind. Our films are thermoplastic and use the same extruders that are currently in the market to make regular plastic films. This is done to ensure that switching costs for all stakeholders in the value chain remain negligible. There are almost no other films currently in the market that are bio-based, 100% marine biodegradable as well as home compostable. Most “biodegradable” films require specialized industrial compostable conditions to disintegrate. pFIBRE films are certified home compostable in under a week and in water in under 3 weeks."

What's next

"pFIBRE is looking to partner with MSMEs, that use and/or manufacture large volumes of thin-film plastic, based in The Netherlands to scale our existing solutions and to also pilot our latest innovation – an insoluble, bio-based, home compostable film. Our insoluble films will have a significantly longer shelf-life than our soluble films, all while being bio-based and backyard compostable. They will disintegrate in a fraction of the time that plastic takes. These insoluble films will be a perfect replacement for thin-film plastic and can replace almost all (excl. medical/pharma) applications."

The coming year

"A year from now, pFIBRE would’ve patented and commercialized the soluble film, piloted the insoluble film, and initiate R&D on an edible soluble film. We will strengthen our R&D and marketing teams and set up a sampling unit to pilot new materials."

Startup facilitator

Powered by the Dutch National Enterprise Agency (RVO) The Netherlands Point of Entry is the first stop for international talent looking to work or set up a business in the Netherlands. A startup visa is one of the means to enter The Netherlands. East Netherlands Development Agency (Oost NL) is an official startup facilitator. This means that, with Oost NL as their facilitator, innovative non-EU citizens can grow their startups in East Netherlands (Gelderland or Overijssel). Oost NL is welcoming international startups who aim to solve global challenges using our regional ecosystem.

In this series we’ve previously published about PLAEX TechnologiesReShoreSophie's BioNutrientsRescude and Ex Mente Europe.