Brief 1: Innovation in Food Packaging

Innovation in food packaging brief

Area of Interest

Food Packaging


Food Packaging, Recycling, Reuse, Circular Economy, Food Packaging, Single Use Packaging, Ocean Plastic, Landfill, Polymer Recycling, Biodegradable packaging.


To create new products and services to replace current unsustainable packaging designs including: single use plastic containers, plastic shopping bags, celophane ‘pillow packs’, cling film, beverage packaging, straws, bottles, bubble-wrap, polystyrene, foil lids, and others. We need better materials, clever product designs and new, circular business models.

The Problem

At present only 14% of plastic products are recycled. So despite the problems being caused, demand for them is expected to double in the next 20 years. Most plastic items are used only once before being discarded, often ending up polluting the environment. If nothing changes, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

Type of Ventures

If you have (or are working on) a solution in this space we’d love to hear from you. We believe that big challenges like this are solved though collaboration and partnership; and there is value in contributing clear thinking and working with others towards a common goal. What we are looking for is:

  • Not specific to any industry vertical
  • Anything that reduces carbon footprint in manufacture
  • Anything that reduces waste
  • Anything that avoids single use packaging
  • Product or service
  • End-to-end solution or just some component of the bigger problem
  • New thinking on incentives. For example: How do we get corner shops to pay people 5p for every plastic bottle they return?

Solutions may come from differing perspectives. For example:

  1. Getting businesses and consumers to change the packaging they use
  2. Incentives for people to remove waste from cities, rivers and oceans
  3. Incentives for new workflows which remove the need for packaging altogether
  4. Products and services which transform existing plastic waste. This includes improving upon existing recycling and re-use, and expanding the number of plastic and component types that can be processed.

Initial Evaluation Criteria

The initial criteria we will use for establishing if your venture is a good fit for the brief is about the potential disruption your venture could create. For example: Does you venture fundamentally change the way resources are used?

To measure disruption we assess the following questions:

  1. What is the probability that this is highly disruptive?
  2. What is the size of the impact expected?
  3. What is the length of time required to create the disruption?
  4. How much money is required to create the impact?
  5. What are the barriers to creating the desired change?
  6. How long will the impact last once its achieved?

Target Markets

Plastic waste is a huge problem, so we are looking for ideas that can be scaled globally. However, everyone has to start somewhere, and improving waste collection and management practices in the most polluted regions would help stem the tide.

The 10 rivers that carry 93 percent of newly generated trash are the Yangtze, Yellow, Hai, Pearl, Amur, Mekong, Indus and Ganges Delta in Asia, and the Niger and Nile in Africa. The Yangtze alone dumps up to an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of plastic waste into the Yellow Sea. So targeting these markets first, is a way to speed up the time to impact.

Top 10 Polluting Rivers

Source: “Export of Plastic Debris by Rivers into the Sea,” by Christian Schmidt et al., in Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 51, No. 21; November 7, 2017


Ventures may apply at any given time during the Application stage. Applications that are received after the cut off date of midnight on 31 March 2019 (GMT) will be considered for the 2019 Cohort 2 activity scheduled for the second half of the year. Please see the full timetable.

Applications may be submitted by completing the following application form, or by emailing us on:

What’s on Offer?

Genesys provides Ventures with an 21 month incubation programme including matching to investors.

Investments of £150,000 for 10-15% equity are typically made in stages throughout the programme.

(Learn more)

Discussion & Clarification

If you have any points that you would like to clarify, or if you would like to ask a question about this brief please do so in the comments section below.

Similarly, please can we encourage anyone reading this brief to contribute your thoughts and knowledge on this topic. Specifically, if you have come across good thinking, research, or innovative products in this area then please will you be kind enough to post a link into the comments below. This will help everyone involved to develop an understanding of where the ‘edges’ of this growing area are. Thank you…


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