Sustainability / Environment

Finding Solutions in Nature: Will Xampla’s ‘Vegan Spider Silk’ Put Single-Use Plastic out of Business? 

UK University of Cambridge spin-off startup Xampla has developed compostable plastic-free sachets and capsules made of a next-gen “vegan spider silk”. The plant-based polymer biomaterial will be introduced soon and may spell the end for single-use plastic

Mimicking the properties of spider silk – one of the strongest materials found in nature – even down to the molecular level, the biomaterial is biodegradable, marine-degradable, and claimed to be as strong as conventional plastic. Expected to launch in late 2021 in packaging applications, the material could have enormous potential if adopted at scale. 

Simon Hombersley (CEO), co-founder Dr Marc Rodriguez Garcia (Head of Research) and Laura Lawrence (CFO) – Image courtesy of Xampla

Originally developed in Cambridge’s Knowles research lab, the “vegan spider silk” was featured in a recent paper published in the journal Nature Communications. Xampla, the startup that evolved from the research project, will be the one to commercialize it. Former Unilever CSO and White House climate change adviser Jeff Seabright has already been appointed as chair, and the startup enjoyed a £6.2 million ($8.7 million) seed funding round earlier this year.

“Xampla is focusing on microplastics applications initially, in line with our mission to address plastic pollution as a certified B Corp. Our first packaging application is sachets for dishwasher detergents, and we will be moving on to other film and coatings applications,” CEO Simon Hombersley told PackagingInsights.

“We are backed by significant investors, including an early backer of Zoom and Facebook, who can support the company to reach scale,” he added.

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