As a limited partner in the fund, Huhtamaki said the investment will help foster 'next-generation sustainable packaging solutions' and tap into the ‘nascent innovation’ of start-ups.
The Finnish company told us it is not disclosing the amount of cash it will put into the fund. However, a spokesperson explained, the investment is one part of Huhtamaki’s three-pronged approach to packaging innovation, which aims to work alongside start-ups while also investing in acquiring new technological capabilities and driving internal innovation capabilities.
“At Huhtamaki, we have consciously decided to invest in acquiring and developing new technological capabilities, leveraging internal expertise across our business segments to solve key innovation challenges, but also seeking best practices to strengthen our innovation capabilities. This means that we also look for opportunities to partner with multiple stakeholders across the value chain and across industries to design for circularity, covering a wide range of systems and products.
“We believe that together we can create incremental, breakthrough and transformative innovation that can lead to systemic, long-lasting change beyond the present. Ultimately this collective effort can help us succeed in protecting food, people, and the planet whilst also bringing significant commercial value.”
Carbon neutral production and circular design
Huhtamaki is committed to ensuring that its innovation for sustainable packaging solutions has a net positive impact. By 2030, the company aims to achieve carbon neutral production and design all its products to be recyclable, compostable or reusable.
Innovation is a key lever if Huhtamaki is to deliver on this ambition. The packaging supplier is therefore working to develop ‘next-generation, transformative innovation’.
“For us to proactively drive next-generation innovation – that will change the face of the packaging industry – we need to investigate all avenues and partner with experts to do so. Our focus is on delivering sustainable packaging solutions, with a net positive impact, driving accessibility, affordability, hygiene and safety of food for consumers all around the world,” explained Charles Héaulmé, President and CEO at Huhtamaki.
Héaulmé said Emerald’s sustainable packaging fund aligns with the packaging manufacturer's own strategic priorities, adding that the VC’s ‘expertise and global reach’ will help it ‘explore new possibilities’ to create value for customers, shareholders, employees and the planet.
“With the investment, we are looking for opportunities to collaborate with new partners in order to help foster next-generation sustainable packaging solutions,” Huhtamaki told FoodNavigator.
Collaborating for impact across the packaging lifecycle
Tech-focused VC Emerald announced the launch of its sustainable packaging fund last April. It is one of the first venture-backed investment vehicles targeting the full packaging lifecycle.
With the global packaging sector set for growth amid a major push to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions, the fund aims to catalyze leaps in the advanced materials and industrial technologies that will both benefit the planet - and earn ‘significant returns’.
Emerald will seek investments in sectors across all stages of the circular economy, ranging from smart packaging to raw materials to plastics recycling.
“Packaging is a vital part of our modern commercial landscape, and we are excited to work with Huhtamaki on developing sustainable solutions which ensure that innovation in packaging has a positive impact,” commented Gina Domanig, Emerald Managing Partner.
This is not Huhtamaki’s first foray into the start-up world. The investment follows Huhtamaki’s earlier collaboration with start-ups – launched in 2020 as part of Huhtamaki’s centennial – which, a spokesperson said, demonstrated the ‘value of partnerships’ in identifying, developing and deploying ‘systemic solutions to deliver game-changing sustainable packaging’ for the future.
Packaging innovation is a hot topic. Manufacturers are working to balance the need to tackle plastic pollution and reduce the carbon footprint of packaging while maintaining the functional and protective attributes of food packaging.
Huhtamaki will be joining FoodNavigator’s upcoming panel on packaging innovation as part of our Climate Smart Food event next week (20-22 September).
Alongside speakers from the Consumer Goods Forum, Great Wrap, Refresco and FoodBytes! By Rabobank, Huhtamaki will profile innovative approaches to F&B packaging.
Climate Smart Food is a three-day, free-to-attend, digital broadcast event brought to you by FoodNavigator. Through a series of interactive panels, presentations and fireside interviews, we'll be asking how to transition towards a climate smart food system.