Xampla, a materials company specialising in natural replacements for single-use plastics, has secured $7m of new funding to expand its Morro brand.

Xampla

The Cambridge spinout’s Morro coatings, films and microcapsules are made from sustainable plant feedstocks including pea protein. According to Xampla, this makes Morro materials fully biodegradable, home compostable and food safe, providing high strength as well as grease and oxygen barrier properties. Its edible films are currently used by meal-kit retailer Gousto, with other materials adopted by skincare brand Elemis and drinks giant Britvic.  

The new funding round included existing backers Amadeus Capital Partners, Horizon Ventures, Cambridge Angels, Cambridge Enterprise, and Martlet Capital. New investors include CIECH Ventures, part of an international developing chemical group employing over 3,000 people. The $7m injection takes Xampla’s total investment to date to $17.6m.

“This investment is a testament to the shared commitment of our backers, who can see that Xampla products are the gateway to a new era in materials sustainability,” Xampla CEO, Alexandra French, said in a statement. “This new funding will support the expansion of our Morro material into new territories and new applications and enable us to make a big impact. We are determined to lead the way towards a future where natural materials thrive, and traditional plastics become a thing of the past.”

Xampla said the investment will help it expand the applications of its Morro Coating, which it claims can be used to replace the plastic-based coatings in takeaway packaging, sachets and cups. Existing materials used to achieve the grease and heat barrier in this type of packaging often contain Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), also known as ‘forever chemicals’ as they do not break down in our bodies or in the environment.

There has been rising concern in recent times over the prevalence of PFAS globally and their potential harmful effects on humans and the wider natural world. Incoming regulation is increasingly restricting the use of PFAS in food packaging to mitigate these environmental and health risks. As a result, alternatives to PFAS are a high priority and Xampla believes its Morro Coating can provide a sustainable solution.

Morro Micro, another of Xampla's products, aims to replace another widespread environmental hazard in the form of microplastic capsules. Widely used in detergents and cosmetics to carry fragrance, these tiny plastic balls get washed directly into waterways. The plant-based Morro Micro capsules are claimed to offer a drop-in solution, enabling companies to comply with legislation such as the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) ban on intentionally added microplastics.