In conversation with one.five: R&D priorities for sustainable food packaging solutions (key talking points)

On Thursday 11th November, we kicked off our autumn Virtual Series with one.five, a co-owned sustainable materials discovery and scale-up platform based in Hamburg, Germany. The event, the first in a series of four ‘industry expositions’ aiming to showcase the top priorities of companies working on plastic and polymer sustainability, was attended by 70 academics and technology transfer professionals.

About the event and our speakers

Our speakers were one.five’s co-founders Claire Gusko and Martin Weber. Claire kicked off the company showcase with an overview of one.five’s R&D priorities, the primary packaging challenges they’re looking to address, and what the company is looking for from academic partners. This was followed by a live Q&A with the audience.

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You can now access the recording of this event through our dedicated webinars page here. Feel free to share it with any colleagues who might find it useful.

What are one.five’s R&D priorities relating to plastic and polymer sustainability?

As part of the Global Challenge campaign, one.five outlined to IN-PART their top R&D priorities, which are summarised as follows:

  • Fresh produce packaging – identifying materials that can withstand the severe packing conditions, lengthy supply chain, and high-quality demands in the fresh produce sector.
  • Rigid cosmetic bottles – for optimising recyclability
  • Disposable bio-based condiment packets – a bio-based, yet cost-effective alternative for highly disposable condiment packets
  • Thermoplastics for blister packaging – replacing the thermoplastic traditionally used in blister-pack packaging

A more detailed breakdown of these technical challenges can be found here, and academic projects or technologies aligned to these can be submitted to one.five through the campaign submission form

How does one.five work with with academics, universities and research institutes? 

The company has up to €250,000 in funding to offer to researchers who can present solutions to the packaging challenges one.five are working on. As part of their team, they have technical leads who are available to liaise directly with researchers in the review and agreement phase ahead of starting further research.

Along with this offer of funding in cash or in-kind, one.five also offer co-ownership with their company for successful embedded projects; all their current employees will be made co-owners by the end of the year to ensure the whole team participates in the success of the company.

If you are a researcher who is interested in collaborating with one.five on their packaging solutions then you can submit your technologies on our Global Challenge submission page.

Highlights from the Q&A

After our panellists showcased their business model and research priorities, we hosted a lively Q&A session with a wide range of questions from attendees. These questions ranged from their approach to working with universities to tips for cost-effective sustainability testing for new materials.

How do one.five approach identifying their key priorities?

Claire started off by acknowledging that technologies can often falter during deployment through the supply chain: they may address the problems of one stakeholder within the supply chain, but then may encounter inertia at further steps. She emphasised that one.five maps the needs of stakeholders along the whole supply chain, aiming to add value at all stages.

What kind of academic partnerships are one.five most interested in?

In his answer, Martin explained that one.five is open to different types of partnerships with scientists depending on the nature and shape of the project. For instance, they have previously worked with technology transfer offices on the subjects of licences and IP when collaborating with inventors. The company is also open to long-term partnerships such as sponsored research, as well as supporting a scientist in residence programme, which could benefit young/early career researchers. 

They usually work with technologies with technology readiness levels (TRL) of 3-5, but would consider 1-2 if presented with a promising solution. 

What are one.five’s top sustainability targets for polymers and materials?

Claire explained that the company’s priority developments for 2022 are focused on packaging materials with a paper substrate combined with a polymer coating for an improved material performance.

She also talked about the challenges that arise from developing these products, as in order for these products to be greaseproof enough to be viable packaging products for customers, they are often coated with petroleum-based polymers. This presents a challenge when investigating sustainable packaging alternatives to plastics. Claire remarked that the use of petroleum-based plastics in paper-based packaging products was much higher than the average consumer would be aware of. 


What is a Global Challenge campaign?

In the spring of 2020, we launched our first Global Challenge campaign (formerly named ‘an open call for research’), where we reached out to all the universities and academics in our extended global network to share with us research at their institute addressing COVID-19. We prioritised dissemination of these technologies to industry teams with aligned interests, to help rapidly deploy interventions against the pandemic. Through this Global Challenge campaign, we facilitated more than 60 introductions between universities and relevant industry R&D professionals. We ran a second open call for Covid-related research in the spring of 2021, creating further connections. 

This time around, we are building on the success of these campaigns and turning our focus to sustainable plastics, polymers, and alternatives.

Read more about the new Global Challenge campaign on sustainable plastics, including more information on the R&D priorities from all the companies participating in our Virtual Series.

Read our Global Challenges FAQ for more information.

To submit your research or opportunities at your institute to one.five’s R&D team, as well as to other companies in our cross-sector network of industry teams looking for new plastic solutions, our Global Challenge submission form can be found on the landing page for academics and TTOs.

Written by Anabel Bennett. Edited by Alex Stockham.

Copyrights reserved unless otherwise agreed – IN-PART Publishing Ltd., 2021: ‘In conversation with one.five: R&D priorities for sustainable food packaging solutions’

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