Press Release

Announcing the Finalists of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s Protective Packaging Design Challenge

February 18, 2020

Innovation Challenge invited entrepreneurs and start-ups to showcase their solutions for protective packaging for B2B and eCommerce. New materials and reuse models among the finalists selected.


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA —  The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) launched the Protective Packaging Design Challenge in October 2019, partnering with Ubuntoo as a co-host partner,  Closed Loop Partners as an associate partner, and the Retail Innovation Center as an affiliate partner. Special thank you to our sponsors, Dow and Sealed AirFive finalists have been selected and presented with the opportunity to describe their innovation at SPC Impact 2020 this spring in Austin, Texas.

This open competition invited entrepreneurs and start-ups to submit new ideas to help solve sustainability challenges often faced by protective packaging. The criteria used to select finalists included various environmental factors including points awarded for sourcing, optimization and recovery, as well as market criteria like business model scalability and potential to provide protection and minimize damage across a range of products.

The Challenge sought expert insights from advisors representing end-users and key stakeholders in protective packaging, including Amazon Packaging Lab, West Elm, Wayfair, The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), Dow, and Sealed Air. Challenge judges ultimately voted on the Finalists and included experts from the SPC, Closed Loop Partners, and academia.

Now, announcing the five finalists!


Flexi-Hex is a 100% recycled paper-based solution that works for a wide range of fragile products from the sports, drinks, industrial, automotive and marine sectors. The honeycomb geometry expands to create a sleeve 35 times wider than its compressed form and works by pulling over the object requiring protection. This compact nature saves space, distribution costs and packaging time for customers. The material has been tested to prove its ability to protect products, keeping them safe from impact during transit. The product is curbside recyclable and compostable.



ClimaCell® is produced by TemperPack who have patented a process for creating foam from paper and plant starch. ClimaCell is recyclable curbside and is a member of SPC’s How2Recycle program. The technology provides both thermal protection and protection from vibration and shock, and TemperPack intends to grow beyond the cold chain space within other applications like void fill, cushioning, and blocking. Their manufacturing process allows them to vary the thickness of ClimaCell based on needs with pricing comparable to conventional materials.


Cruz Foam

CruzFoam creates a range of compostable packaging materials by combining the seafood industry waste stream  (shrimp shells sourced from sustainable farming) with the overflow waste stream from paper recycling, transforming them into a naturally sourced foam. CruzFoam has comparable mechanical properties and thermal insulation to expanded polystyrene and at scale has promise to be cost competitive.



Returnity manufactures customized reusable shipping and delivery packaging out of rPET fabrics that meets diverse shipping models for both B2B and B2C needs.They design both bags and boxes that can fold when returned empty, saving on cost and resources. Returnity has serviced customers from apparel, electronics, furniture and wine sectors, with testing performance shown to be superior to cardboard.  The package is guaranteed for 40 multiple uses and once returned, recycling can be coordinated.

Ecovative Mushroom Packaging

Evocative’s Mushroom® Packaging utilizes mycelium as a self-assembling, biological binder to bind together organic agricultural byproducts, such as wood chips, to produce durable, bio-based and home compostable packaging. Ecovative is able to create custom shapes even at small volumes that are water resistant and insulating. They are targeting a range of applications in blocking and bracing, retail, ecommerce, and insulation. Ecovative is Cradle to Cradle Gold Certified.

All five finalists are invited to present on the main stage at SPC Impact in Austin, TX on Thursday, April 2, 2020, with the three top scoring finalists, Flexi-Hex, TemperPack and Cruz Foam, receiving one year of SPC membership. 

Learn more about the Protective Packaging Design Challenge here.

Media contacts:
Peter Schelstraete

Sarah Messer