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Source Green founders Sonalie Figueiras (in black) and Luc des Vallières

Source Green’s bespoke and off-the-shelf solutions propel firms away from plastic packaging

F&B firms can source packaging made from wheat bran, bagasse, and areca palm.

With Hong Kong’s impending ban on disposable plastics, businesses are urgently seeking solutions tailored to their specific requirements. Finding the ideal alternative, though, is not that simple. Here’s where Source Green steps in, providing bespoke sourcing for alternative packaging solutions.

“We have mapped out a huge global supply chain of alternatives. We have brands, we have innovators who are creating new materials. We also have factories that we can work with to help [companies] find alternatives for their packaging. We’re essentially a sourcing portal,” Sonalie Figueiras, CEO and co-founder of Source Green, told Hong Kong Business.

What makes Source Green special as a sourcing portal is the alternatives it offers which are “not available off-the-shelf,” Figueiras pointed out.

For example, the startup can help e-commerce brands access packaging made from mushroom foam, silphie paper, wool waste, or cornstarch for example. For brands in the F&B space, Source Green has packaging made from wheat bran, bagasse, and areca palm.

Figueiras, however, clarified that Source Green is not the creator of these alternative packaging options available on their portal. Rather, what the startup does is help companies identify what available alternatives there are that fit their needs, then coordinates directly with factories or manufacturers on behalf of the startups to create and manufacture their packaging solutions.

“Our mission is to help the brand. We will find the right solution and the right supplier, and we will make sure it’s a good fit for your product. This is what we mean when it’s not off the shelf because every single product requires specific functionalities for its packaging,” Luc des Vallières, COO and co-founder of Source Green.

“We also help buyers understand what they actually need [because often] they’re not sure. They just know they want to replace plastic but don’t necessarily know… what’s possible,” added Figueiras.

Figueiras said companies can place orders for compostable pouches on Source Green’s site, but underscored that the startup specialises in working with a company to understand their pain points and identify what would be the ideal green packaging solution for their product.

According to Figueiras, most companies are not aware of what is possible and not possible, citing algae packaging as an example.

“Today, there is no algae packaging at scale. It’s not an actual solution, but if you read the media articles, it appears that algae packaging is readily available and you may be thinking:  ‘Wow, algae packaging is so exciting!’ This is where there’s such a gap and they need a navigator. We’re the navigator for that,” Figueiras told Hong Kong Business.

To help companies identify what’s best for them, Source Green also performs plastic audits and creates bespoke reports for their clients based on their current packaging. This is part of Source Green’s software solution, which enables companies to measure their entire plastic waste footprint, from the extraction of the plastic from the ground to its end-of-life (i.e. where it gets disposed).

“When we dig in as experts, [companies] often realise they have been kind of misguided, or they may not understand the ingredients/materials they're using. This is really the core of the problem,” Des Vallières said.

“Sometimes they mention a competitor's solution, and they believe that their competitors are doing great stuff. We can tell them, ‘Okay, yes some of that is indeed great but here’s what’s not so great either.’ They have these misconceptions about what others are doing and what they are doing,” he added.

Education

Apart from doing reports, Source Green acts as a navigator for companies through education, believing that it is key to addressing the world’s plastics problem.

“We put out a newsletter every month with all sustainable packaging news. We do speaking work, we do advisory. We’re constantly networking and doing content creation,” Figueras said.

Steadfast on the positive impact of their campaigns, Source Green is focusing on expanding the reach of their educational content.

Des Vallières, for his part, also makes plastic waste social media posts, highlighting greenwashing in corporate communications and on packaging labels. He also works with Plastic Fresk, and offers sessions with corporates to teach them about the plastic crisis.

“We are constantly trying to get out there with content and really promote and educate people around the crisis,” Figueras said.
 
Recyclable is not enough

As a green packaging expert, Des Vallières is clear about the fact that recyclable packaging is not sustainable or green. Recycled plastic isn’t either.

“Recyclable or recycling is not enough. We want to offer solutions that can go back to nature to be composted, and not stay in the environment forever. Even if your packaging is recycled, it can still be a waste material in a few weeks or months or even hours,” Des Vallières explained.

“We’re not anti-plastic, but we are very anti-single-use plastic, because this is where the issue comes from. It’s this idea of everything being disposable and everything being  single-use. This is something we have to change,” Des Vallières told Hong Kong Business.

Underlining Source Green’s more extreme point of view, Figueiras said that for them, the term ‘sustainable packaging” has to   mean entirely fossil-fuel-free.

“It does not require any kind of oil extraction and ideally, it’s entirely tree-free as well. So basically, we’re not using resources that either are polluting [or unsustainable],” Figueiras said.

Des Vallières said tree-free alternatives such as agri waste present a massive opportunity, especially for Asia, where there is an abundance of feedstock.

“All this fibre is being burnt or just dumped. We can use that as a resource to make materials that are better for the planet and better for us too. If you save them from being incinerated, it’s a massive win in terms of GHG (greenhouse gases) emissions and also, it’s turning waste into material or treasure,” he said. “This is what we can do, especially in the region. We have the opportunity to do this. We have the capacity  to do it.”

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