An Australian company has pioneered globally the use of wasted wool from the underbelly of sheep to replace billions of tonnes of Polystyrene and compete against the US$28 billion global polystyrene market giving Australian and New Zealand sheep farmers increased revenue.
Planet Protector Packaging fights polystyrene use
Woolpack is created from the underbelly wool of sheep and has previously been sent to landfill as there has not been a commercial application for this product.
Polystyrene products fill up 30% of landfills globally. Australians import 52,000 tonnes of polystyrene annually and only one quarter of this is recycled, the remainder is sent to landfill.
Founder Joanne Howarth used to work for a company selling meal kits that used 35,000 polystyrene boxes every week. Ingredients would arrive in polystyrene boxes and then get distributed to the public in more polystyrene boxes.
“I used to have a forklift roster just to move the polystyrene boxes. I can’t tell you how much pushback we got from customers. They had no way to dispose of those boxes.”
“There was a desperate need to get an alternative because polystyrene has dominated this space for ages. Planet Protector Packaging has 35 staff and is processing 20 tonnes of waste wool a week from Australian and New Zealand sheep,” said Joanne Howarth.
“When sheep are sheared there are offcuts from the underbelly, unwanted by textiles and going to landfills. Farmers weren’t getting paid for the waste so they were losing revenue.”
The waste wool is encased in a recyclable plastic or compostable sleeve to line boxes and is used to cushion and insulate food and medical supplies.
“Wool is a remarkable fibre and the best insulator on the planet,” states Howarth.
“Instead of being saddled with polystyrene, customers reuse the wool insulation to put in their shopping bags, hanging baskets, pet bedding and home compost.”
On a mission to eliminate polystyrene from the world, Joanne’s efforts create a notable impact.
“We have diverted 2,600 tonnes of compressed polystyrene from the waste stream. This equates to 44 Olympic-sized swimming pools,” the entrepreneur says.
Planet Protector Packaging future plans
With annual revenues over AUD$5M the company is poised to scale and will invest funds from a current capital raising on Birchal into expanding its operations/company/planet protector.
It will build a wool manufacturing facility in Geelong, VIC, Australia’s wool capital, bringing this step of the processing back onshore, create jobs, support regional communities and farmers, and create a 100% sustainable alternative to Expanded Polystyrene(EPS).
PPP sends wool to China for processing because there are no capabilities in Australia.
By bringing wool processing back home to Australia, it will drive wool manufacturing into the future. The facility will not only create jobs but also reduce our reliance upon China.
Howarth said, “We use waste wool that is destined for landfills and we create environmentally responsible packaging that replaces expanded polystyrene in the packaging supply chains.”
“It gives shepherds another income stream, stops filling our landfills, and saves our oceans.”
For our clients, it’s another way they can tick the environmentally responsible box” and this is what all businesses are looking to achieve as the world transitions to a circular economy”.