Shafali Gupta and Andy Epifani (Co-Founders) - Uuvipak
Shafali Gupta (Co-Founder): [email protected]
Andy Epifani (Co-Founder): [email protected]
Q: Co-founders bring a unique power to start-ups. What are your respective backgrounds, how did you meet, and how was the idea of Uuvipak created?
We are Shafali and Andy. We co-founded Uuvipak, with the mission to eliminate single-use plastic pollution. We are passionate about designing a better world, and recently set on the mission to create a company to do just that.
Shafali has over 10 years experience as a scientist, and has completed her PhD in Medicine at the University of Queensland in Australia. She brings scientific and research knowledge to the team.
Andy has many years of work experience as a software engineer and designer. He completed studies in Italy, China and Australia and is now fully dedicated to bringing his skill to Uuvipak.
During our search for a ride partner in 2021, we met each other through a mutual friend. Our goal is to solve many serious environmental problems at the same time, by making products from the most sustainable materials possible, organic food waste, and reduce the impact we have on our planet.
Currently, we manufacture edible cups, cutlery, and bowls made from organic food waste without using any artificial reagents.
A variety of industries, including food & products packaging, can use our materials to replace hard and soft plastics.
We are proud of our accomplishment: the only waste we generate in the process of making our products is water! We have plans to harvest the water and use it within our process as service water as well as introduce it to the market as potable water.
We are very excited to be developing sustainable technologies that can change the world!
Q: What is the mission of Uuipak?
Our mission is to free our planet from plastic waste by creating natural materials that the earth will love. Our goal is to replace 1 billion plastic products with Uuvipak, between January 2022 and the December 2025!
Q: Where did your passion for sustainability originate?
Our passion for sustainability began a few years ago, as online shopping became more and more popular and the amount of packaging that comes in the mail kept on growing.
During the recent Covid pandemic, the amount of take-away containers discarded each day shocked us, and we decided it was time to take action and do something about this massive problem!
Q: What is your 2025 vision for the world of sustainability?
We believe that by 2025 the world will be in a much better place, especially when it comes to packaging. More and more sustainable solutions have been entering the market, and companies have embraced sustainable practices all around – from manufacturing, to water treatment.
Q: How did you create the idea for Uuvipak, and how has the business developed since then?
The goal of Uuvipak has always been to replace plastics and solve the plastic pollution problem.
We started by doing research with seaweed. Our initial idea was to create alternatives for soft plastics, like the ones used for plastic bags. During our research we stumbled upon some papers that discussed how various organic materials could be used as part of the process and we thought to focus our research on that a bit more.
We discovered that a lot of organic waste that ends up in landfill could be used to create materials that have properties similar to plastics. Soon after, we conducted hundreds of experiments and filed a provisional patent to protect the chemical composition of the materials we are using in our products.
Q: How does your product reduce water consumption?
Uuvipak is a water positive company, which means our process generates more water than it uses. Adding water to the market will help us save precious water from wells and reservoirs, which in turn keeps our planet cooler.
We plan to use the water we generate in our process as service water, or divert it to agricultural land for irrigation.
Q. How will your product impact the world?
Plastics are an environmental disaster: they stay with us for thousands of years, devastating our wildlife, waterways and the ocean. Over 300 million tons are produced each year, half of which is used only once. Every year, over 14 million tons of plastic enter the sea, representing 80% of all marine debris from the surface to the deep sea. Plastics are broken down into microplastics and nanoplastics. As a result, they become attractive food for marine animals, causing them a huge array of health issues.
The innovative products we offer are edible, 100% biodegradable, home-compostable alternatives to plastics that can be used for a variety of applications. We do not use any chemically modified components in our products, so they are completely safe to eat for both humans and animals, including marine life.
When our products reach waterways or lakes, they begin to biodegrade as they remain in contact with water. Under normal environmental conditions, or in any home-compost bin, they biodegrade completely in 3-4 weeks, without leaving any trace.
We also reduce methane emissions not only by upcycling clean food waste, but also by replacing plastic, which releases methane and carbon dioxide (two of the major greenhouse gases) when disposed of in landfills, leading to global warming.
Through our process we also generate water, which can potentially be used as service water, irrigation water for agriculture.
*** Uuvipak products don’t pollute landfills.
*** Uuvipak products are made by upcycling food waste so reducing landfill and methane emission.
*** Uuvipak products are designed to replace single-time use plastics.
Q. How is your current product solution different from other products already on the market?
Most products on the market that are designed to replace plastic use materials that are chemically modified, and require industrial composting facilities to biodegrade. Unfortunately, there are not enough industrial compost facilities, so the pollution problem remains as these products can take up to 50 years to break down in landfill.
Very few companies manufacture close to where these products are used, which generates emissions from transport.
Uuvipak is created from 100% organic food manufacturing byproducts, which would otherwise become waste and end up in landfill.
Since we do not use any chemical additives, our products are home compostable and even edible! After use, Uuvipak naturally biodegrades within a few weeks, without the need of industrial facilities, and does not leave any harmful traces in the environment.