The future's green: Green Alley 2017 awards

The future's green: Green Alley 2017 awards

A worktop made from quartz and waste plastic, premium packaging made from wood and a re-usable disposable vending cup are among the finalists in this year's Green Alley Awards

Sulapac packaging from Finnish green start-up Sulapac

The Green Alley Award (launched in 2014 by Landbell Group) is given annually to European founders/ start-ups in the circular economy. Next month six finalists head to Berlin to make their five-minute pitches to the judges and they include start-ups with products that could make a difference to all our lives. Finland's Sulapac, for example, has developed a stong and attractive high quality packaging material made from wood and natural adhesives, pictured above.

This year's Green Alley Award finalists hail from Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, France, and Germany, and they all offer hope for a mainstream circular economy, when waste as a term doesn't exist anymore.
Creating eco-friendly packaging material that’s also visually pleasing is the mission of Finnish start-up Sulapac. Unlike most of the packaging industry, the company’s two founders rely on a sustainable material made of wood and natural adhesives. Sulapac’s eco-packaging exhibits plastic-like properties, but is 100 permcent degradable. But unlike other biodegradable packaging alternatives, it’s dense and can be safely filled with oil or water. The Finns want to start by leaving their positive footprint in cosmetics and luxury packaging.


Sulapac packaging for cosmetics is made from sustainable Finnish wood
Quality packaging for cosmetics from Sulapac
Dutch start-up Sustonable wants to give recycled PET a second chance so it’s developed a composite material consisting of quartz and PET. In 2015 alone, more than 1.8 million tonnes of PET bottles were collected and recycled across Europe; the base material is thus available in large quantities. Sustonable offers a material harder than granite and that is also 100 per cent degradable. The product is similar in appearance to natural stone, comes in several colours, and can be used in many  ways: as kitchen worktop, for bathroom cladding, or in furniture production.
An eco alternative material for worktops from Sustonable..a mix of quartz and waste plastic that is recyclable
Newcy has developed a machine that washes cups from vending machines so they can be reused, not thrown in landfill
The numbers are clear and we must all get to grips with the fact that disposable cups have no future. In France alone, 4.7 million of them end up in landfill waste each year. The French government has already put a stop to the generation of further to-go cup waste; starting in 2020, it will prohibit the use of all types of disposable cups. That’s where Newcy comes in. The Rennes-based start-up offers consumers the opportunity to keep drinking vending-machine coffee – with one major difference: the used cups are now thrown into a collecting machine, washed at a plant, then reused in the vending machine.
Tyres...they’re black, round, and carry us from A to B. But once they unfit for use, they become an eco nightmare because they take hundreds of years to degrade and clog up landfill sites- and globally more than 1 billion tyres are thrown away each year. So it's high time we think of how to re use them - which is where Irish start-up Mimergy comes in. It has long recognised the resources contained in the tyres an using a zero-waste process, it is now able to extract biofuels, gases and renewable carbon, among other things, from tyres.
Streets that provide energy, fuel our electric cars, and at the same time generate profit – sounds like pie in the sky? Well, it’s not. Munich-based start-up Solmove recognises the value of solar streets and has been working on the so-called Voltstreet since 2014. Solmove is mindful of sustainability in its technology: the main components of the solar street are silicon and glass. The latter is up to 50 per cent recyclable, as are the electronic components. Toxic or rare materials are not used. The start-up is already working on additional features like LED lighting, heat emission, and traffic sensors.
So-called peptides, biochemically composed of amino acids, are often hidden in creams, drugs, and dietary supplements. Large amounts of solvents are used in their industrial production, some of which are harmful to the environment and human health. Sulfotools, a spin-off of Darmstadt University, wants to offer manufacturers an eco-friendly alternative with its so-called Clean Peptide Technology which saves on hazardous waste as well as material costs. The use of water rather than organic solvents is the key to the technology. According to Sulfotools, the result is a reduction of up to 50 per cent in the cost of peptide production.
These six finalists were chosen from more than 200 entries to this year's Green Alley awards competition.