This year’s Green Alley Award goes to Ukrainian startup S.Lab for its agricultural waste and mycelium packaging innovation
The winner of the Green Alley Award 2023, Europe’s first startup prize for the circular economy, is S.Lab from Ukraine. The startup's winning idea: an alternative to Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) material and a truly green packaging solution. Made from mycelium roots and hemp stems in their laboratory, S.Lab packaging solution is 100% biodegradable.
Jan Patrick Schulz, CEO of Landbell Group and creator of the award said: “S.Lab addresses a vital topic for the circular economy. The usage of packaging has resulted in a heavy burden on the environment, and the management of packaging waste is facing a challenge due to packaging recyclability. What convinced us about S.Lab was that their biodegradable packaging has similar properties to EPS but instead they use hemp and mushroom roots, specifically mycelium, as the only plant-based components. Furthermore, to produce this packaging, S.Lab will build small factories with a closed-loop automated production line placed in 40-foot containers,” said Schulz. “The Green Alley Award has put a spotlight on circular startups like S.Lab that can make a decisive contribution to our fight against climate change.”
Julia Bialetska, Co-Founder and CEO of S.Lab, is delighted to win the award and explains how the startup will use the prize money of €25,000: “We are thrilled to receive this award. We need to rethink the way we use resources and materials and investigate the opportunity of using more and more renewable resources, repurpose current usage of the resources and decrease waste generation. For us a great example of circular economy implementation in packaging industry is packaging as a service, where instead of using packaging once, it’s collected and then used again in many more cycles of delivery. We will use the prize money to commercialise our product, create more impact and enable a more circular future.”
In the Green Alley mentoring sessions, the finalists worked with experts on their startup concepts and were challenged on their ideas and business models. The panelists provided their expert knowledge on areas such as business development, supply chain management as well as marketing and circular economy policy and regulations. During the evening, all six startups presented their business idea to the audience and the jury in live pitches.
The Green Alley Award is the first European startup award for the circular economy. Since 2014, Landbell Group has rewarded companies whose business models are in the areas of digital circular economy, recycling or waste prevention. In March, Landbell Group nominated six finalists which included a sustainability platform for the textile industry, biodegradable packaging made of hemp and mycelium, an independent sourcing platform for sustainable packaging, a digital sales and auction marketplace for used electrical and electronic equipment, a technology-driven platform to connect informal waste pickers to the recycled plastic market and a technological machine to analyse plastic composition. “We are very pleased that we are once again able to present a strong winner with S.Lab this year. With its convincing strategy to scale its biodegradable packaging solution in a short timeframe, S.Lab can really make a difference for the circular economy,” said Schulz.