Biomaterials startup Traceless wants to help tackle plastic pollution. It just raised $39 million in debt and equity with this 15-slide pitch deck.
This story is available exclusively to Business Insider subscribers. Become an Insider and start reading now.
- Biomaterials startup Traceless has raised $39 million in a mixture of debt and equity.
- The Hamburg-based company, founded in 2020, wants to help tackle plastic pollution.
- Traceless has developed a plastic alternative based on agricultural waste.
A German startup hoping to help put an end to plastic pollution has just raised 36.6 million euro (around $38.9 million) in a mixture of equity and debt.
Hamburg-based Traceless, founded in 2020, has developed a plant-based biomaterial using agricultural waste to replace plastics. Plastics are everywhere – in the ocean, Antarctica, and in food – and account for 3.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2022 study. Only 9% of plastics are recycled, it also found.
Plastics are typically made from petrochemicals, while traditional production methods to create synthetic polymers are energy-intensive, Traceless cofounder and CEO Anne Lamp told Insider.
The startup’s material uses the existing natural polymers that are in its raw material, which requires up to 80% less energy to process compared to conventional plastics, Lamp said. There is also no waste water, no waste gases, or chemicals, she added. The resulting material is fully bio-based and compostable at home.
By using a side-stream and a low-waste process, Traceless wants to also contribute towards the circular economy. “We have millions of tonnes of side-streams in this world and we have limited arable land, so we need to start first using sidestreams to valorize them to higher value products,” Lamp said.
Traceless produces its material as small pellets to provide to product manufacturers, which then mould it to their needs. This is how plastic is typically bought and used, so the startup’s product can drop into existing processes.
Having a drop-in solution was “crucial,” cofounder and chief operating officer Joanna Baare said. “We cannot expect the entire industry to change for a novel solution that, starting at least, is not able to provide lots of materials from the get-go.”
“This also sets us apart from other companies trying to bring novel biomaterials to the market, that our materials are actually processable on the existing machinery of the plastics industry,” she added.
Its current material can be used for rigid, or hard, products, thin films, and coatings for paper. Traceless already has a handful of partners on board, including a fashion retailer that wants to substitute its single-use plastic hooks which display prices. Part of the fresh funds will be used to expand use cases.
The end goal is to replace all plastics that end up in the environment, where the item can’t become part of the circular economy and can’t be recycled, Baare said. The startup hopes to have replaced 1 million tonnes of plastic by 2030.
Traceless would not comment on the proportion of debt to equity in the new round. It comes from UB Forest Industry Green Growth Fund, a private equity player that backs startups developing plastic alternatives, and French firm SWEN Capital Partners, from its Blue Ocean fund.
The startup is at the Series A stage. Its total capital raised – which includes debt – is around 40 million euros. GLS Bank, Hamburg, and Hamburger Sparkasse participated in the round as a local banking syndicate alongside existing investors Planet A Ventures, High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), and German deep tech investor b.value.
The cash injection will be used to build a demonstration plant in Hamburg. Currently a team of 40, the startup plans to double its headcount by the end of next year.
Check out the 15-slide redacted pitch deck below: