UK – Xampla, a spin-off company from the University of Cambridge, has launched its first consumer brand, Morro, with the aim of promoting sustainable packaging.

The launch follows 15 years of research and will introduce a “Morro marque” on supermarket products, allowing consumers to select bio-based packaging.

Xampla technology is based on protein research led by Professor Tuomas Knowles, a renowned expert in protein biophysics and a Professor of Physical Chemistry and Biophysics at the University of Cambridge.

The company claims to have pioneered the development of a high-performance natural polymer film using sustainable and scalable processes.

The materials are made entirely from plant proteins, which can be sourced from agricultural waste streams and can break down in any environment, leaving no pollutants behind.

The Morro launch follows a survey conducted by the company, which involved 2,000 UK adults. The survey revealed that over half (54%) of the participants view plastic as a “material of the past.”

Seventy-six percent of respondents said they prefer products ‘to come in natural, plastic-free packaging that can be composted at home or taken by the council alongside food waste.”

Pete Hutton, executive chair at Xampla, says, “The polling data shows that the public is already ahead of the industry in recognizing that plastic’s days are numbered.

“With the public becoming increasingly aware of the hazards of plastic pollution and the carbon emissions associated with its production, consumers are now seeking an innovative and practical alternative.

“Morro will enable brands to easily transition away from single-use plastics, and our innovative material can accomplish things that plastic never could.”

Xampla was first launched in 2018, and its researchers have described how they replicated the composition of spider silk – one of the strongest naturally occurring materials.

“Because all proteins are composed of polypeptide chains, we can induce self-assembly of plant proteins under suitable conditions, similar to spider silk,” stated Knowles.

“In spiders, the silk protein is dissolved in an aqueous solution, which then assembles into an incredibly strong fiber through a spinning process that requires very little energy.

“These are all characteristics that we aim to replicate. Even at the level of individual molecules, the material resembles silk.”

With Morro, these developments will be hitting store shelves. The brand claims that its technology is completely free of plastic, and the material is not chemically altered. This ensures that it can decompose along with food waste in marine and soil environments.

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