Case Study: envoPAP - curating sustainable material solutions
envoPAP is a 100% tree free, carbon neutral paper supplier in the UK. It provides a wide range of circular solutions to help improve the sustainability of businesses by providing an extensive range of eco-friendly paper made from sugarcane fibre.
The company was founded by Kaushal Shah and he is expanding the family business after learning commerce skills. Kaushal studied at the University of Southampton between 2014 and 2015 before receiving a graduate entrepreneur visa which he used to create envoPAP.
The flagship product is envoPAP - paper made from sugarcane fibre. According to a company source, in the last two and half years, envoPAP has already saved 550,000 trees. It attributes this dramatic success to using a ‘waste to wealth’ approach. Agro-waste from sugar cane comprises 80% of the envoPAP paper compared to paper made from wood fibres. Production of envoPAP helps the environment - using 8 packets of envoPAP saves one tree. Currently, envoPAP is used for copier and offset printing. Research and development will ensure that envoPAP has a bright future across a range of packaging applications in all industries.
In 2018 envoPAP was a finalist in the Green Tech Challenge - an investment competition for green businesses who have the potential to disrupt traditional supply chains. Under Kaushal Shah's leadership, the company has already achieved over two years of successful trade and is poised to become the leading supplier of sustainable solutions in Europe.
Kaushal was keen to develop further products and to launch their product in the UK for the retail sector and through various search engines and social media he read about the business support programme - the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub (STBAH), so applied to join the programme. The STBAH is a programme funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which provides bespoke sector specific support to startups or SMEs who are growing their business. The STBAH programme is partnered with the University of Bath and business incubator SETsquared.
envoPAP met the relevant criteria in order to join the programme and following the first meeting it became clear that research partnerships could be developed with the University of Bath and the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies to help further diversify their product range that Kaushal had in mind for biodegradable food packaging and personal care products. For this purpose it needed suitable barrier layers to impart appropriate oxygen and/or water barrier properties to the materials - grease resistance might also be desirable.
Professor’s Janet Scott and Matthew Davidson from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Bath are working with Kaushal Shah from envoPAP to develop an in-depth understanding of the barrier properties of existing polymers, particulate and composite films and coatings. This project is funded through the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account, an institutional grant at the University of Bath (Grant Ref: EP/R51164X/1), which contributed to the Sustainable Technology Commissioned Fund. The project is being coordinated by the Centre of Sustainable Chemical Technologies and the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub.
Prof. Matthew Davidson
Director of the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies
Talking about the research project Prof. Davidson, says, “envoPAP has been founded on the basis with sustainability and technology at its core as providers of paper-based products - the project facilitated knowledge exchange from the University of Bath and envoPAP to provide significant impact from the work that was done in Bath.
“Funding was secured so that researcher, James Courtenay, based at the University of Bath could collate the research and patent literature on the barrier properties of polymers and to also critically evaluate literature reports and produce a report that is useful to both the academics and envoPAP.”
Talking about the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub and the support received, Kaushal Shah, Director, envoPAP who developed eco-eco-friendly products in pulp and paper manufacturing, said,
“Working with researchers at the University of Bath has given envoPAP the opportunity to further develop diverse products which will lead to more biodegradable packaging. envoPAP sees sustainable development as a core business of the sector, paving the way for securing a safe and healthy working environment and the desire to develop eco-eco-friendly products. We believe that conservation of resources is the path of sustainable development - our primary responsibility.
Finding expert advice and innovative solutions to address complex issues can be a daunting process, but the expertise from researchers at the University of Bath has been an invaluable part of the process for envoPAP. The free business support programme also helped us address certain issues around scaling up and investment strategy. I would absolutely recommend that any startup or SME innovating in sustainable technologies sign up to the STBAH programme to find out what avenues and opportunities are available to help with your business growth plans. I’m really excited to now be at the stage of further product development”.
Kaushal Shah, Director, envoPAP
Developing eco friendly papers
The project developed a new partnership with envoPAP and the University of Bath which resulted in a review being produced on the barrier properties of polymeric and composite materials. Emphasis was placed on understanding and interrogating the current landscape found in the research and patent literature. This formed a key component of future grant applications and the knowhow it contains will allow for the rapid co-development of novel coated bagasse paper products.
For further information about the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub visit the website https://www.stbah.org/ and submit your application via the form on the website.