'Woola' Could Pack a Punch for E-Commerce in Estonia
Circular economy laid the foundation for the Tallinn Climathon, which challenged participants to rethink current systems and design eco-friendly products and materials that could be easily recycled after each use.
Circular economy laid the foundation for the Tallinn Climathon, which challenged participants to rethink current systems and design eco-friendly products and materials that could be easily recycled after each use. In partnership with Cleantech ForEst and Ergo, EIT Climate-KIC's global 24-hour hackathon supported transformative innovation for a zero-carbon future.
With the climate crisis unfolding before our eyes, the need to detour from the current "take, make, waste" model toward a "make, use, return" model becomes increasingly critical. Mass-delivery services like Amazon only amplify the problem as e-commerce packaging creates tons of unrecycled waste. Merchants are currently using the worst possible materials for protecting parcels: Styrofoam packing peanuts and bubble wrap. These materials are preferred because they are cheaply produced, durable and lightweight, however their production requires large amount of energy and 96% of these materials are not recycled.
In a market as small as Estonia, 31M liters of packing peanuts are thrown away every month. You can imagine the amount of packaging waste produced by the entirety of Europe! Other biodegradable options exist but these materials are often expensive to produce, and their weight increases shipping costs. At the same time, consumer preferences are rapidly changing and the demand for more sustainable packaging solutions is higher than ever.
Introducing 'Woola': an eco-friendly bubble wrap made from sheep wool. It’s shock proof, heat-proof, and at-home compostable within six months. Even better, Woola is lightweight and 40% cheaper than plant-based package fillers. The product is poised to be a game changer for the e-commerce market, with the potential to significantly decrease the production, consumption and landfill waste of environmentally harmful materials like Styrofoam and plastic. The biodegradable package filler makes use of an abundant resource that would otherwise be thrown away while promoting responsible consumption and production. Though Woola remains in the research and design phase, a prototype is currently being tested with the Estonian national postal service and a green cosmetics e-commerce business.
"I definitely see a lot of potential in this because the global e-commerce market is huge. Especially now that we’re starting to use new kinds of packaging as well," explained Anna-Liisa Palatu, team member of the winning Climathon solution.
Meet The Team
Joining Anna-Liisa, the other great minds behind Woola are operations specialist Jevgeni Shirai and designer Katrin Kabun. The team's expertise spans social entrepreneurship, design, business innovation, logistics and product development.
Through the annual Climathon event, EIT Climate-KIC unites people in the thousands to tackle climate challenges with transformative systems change. On 31 January, we will celebrate this international movement that brought citizens and cities together at the Climathon Global Awards in Paris. Woola and nine other top solutions will have the chance to receive prizes of up to €10,000 to propel their solution into the next phase of development. Stay tuned!