Varden, the Melbourne-based tech startup and manufacturer of high-performance, biodegradable packaging materials like Paperseal, announced a $2.2 million seed funding round. Horizons Ventures, a VC fund backed by Li Ka-shing with early investments in companies like Spotify and Zoom, led the investment. This financing will help Varden to develop a pilot manufacturing facility to create their products at scale and expand their offerings to a global market.
The ubiquity of single-use plastics in consumer goods packaging has been of much concern to governments and major corporations alike. The European Union banned the use of single-use plastic items beginning in 2021, and companies like Nestle and Walmart have pledged to deploy 100% sustainable packaging by 2025. On a wider scale, 91% of plastics are never recycled, and those that are can take up to 400 years to decompose naturally.
To address this massive shift, Varden has brought together a confluence of proprietary biochemistry and fiber-thermoforming to transform the way consumer packaging is designed through a process called “bio-mimicry”. Their fully compostable materials provide manufacturers of products like coffee pods and pharmaceutical blister packs the opportunity to lower their production costs and dramatically decrease the carbon footprint of their businesses at no consequence to product performance. The company’s flagship offering, Paperseal, offers a familiar look and feel to consumers without the harmful byproducts of traditional plastic packaging.
“Companies have a plastic problem. These outdated materials have long been the status quo, but smart businesses are beginning to wake up to the reality that ignoring negative environmental effects can hurt their bottom lines. Consumers are demanding alternatives and willing to reward companies who go the extra mile to be sustainable,” said Stuart Gordon, Founder and General Manager of Innovation at Varden. “At Varden we’ve built a real, technologically superior alternative to plastic. We are driven by technological innovation and a desire to ultimately return the materials used in our packaging products to where they originated from – the Earth – in a timely and sustainable manner.”
Varden is working with some of the largest coffee brands in the world to manufacture and test new coffee pod offerings. With over 20 billion coffee pods consumed every year, these products have the potential to massively reduce plastic waste on a global scale. Varden’s patented oxygen barrier, water vapor barrier and 3D thermoforming processes ensure the freshness and shelf stability offered by traditional plastic packaging.
The company is led by co-founders Stuart Gordon and Mark Appleford. Before starting Varden, Gordon served as a senior product designer in the consumer packaging industry working for many leading global brands. Appleford is an environmental scientist with extensive experience in business development and commercialization, positioning Varden’s executive team to tackle the issues present in contemporary packaging design head on.
“The continued use of aluminium and plastic is not sustainable – even a tiny pharmaceutical blister pack may take up to 400 years to decompose. Varden’s technology offers a truly disruptive solution, which delivers high performing packaging with zero environmental impact, at a competitive price. We are excited to be part of Varden,” said Chris Liu of Horizons Ventures.
Varden is a company focused on creating and commercializing sustainable materials that enrich our world. Our core technologies rely on the use of naturally molded plant pulp fiber to create eco-friendly, beautiful and high-performing packaging for a wide range of material applications.
About Horizons Ventures
Horizons Ventures, the private investment arm of Mr. Li Ka-shing, is a leading investor in some of the world’s most innovative companies and disruptive technologies, including Facebook, Waze, Spotify, Impossible Foods, Improbable and Zoom.