Development of bio-based and dissolvable sachets for home and personal care applications

Lead Participant: XAMPLA LTD


"Just-add-water" homecare products are growing in popularity, with cleaning products shipped in concentrated form enclosed in dissolvable single-serve sachets for dilution at home, offering maximum convenience and sustainability. Since 90%+ of cleaning products is water, shipping water-free concentrates can reduce logistics-related energy, plastic waste, and carbon dioxide emissions by 80-90%.

However, at-market "just-add-water" products rely on water-soluble plastics such as polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). PVA is low-cost, lightweight, strong, durable, and transparent, with excellent barrier properties that meet the technical requirements for homecare applications such as laundry detergent pods and dishwasher tablet pouches. However, although PVA rapidly dissolves in water, it is non-biodegradable and potentially releases microplastics, defined as synthetic polymeric particles 100 nm to 5 mm in length.

It is estimated that between 15 and 51 trillion microplastics have accumulated in our oceans. When ingested by plankton and fish, microplastics enter the food chain, ultimately reaching humans; indeed, microplastics have been detected in human faeces. The impacts of microplastics on the environment and human health are still poorly understood; however, since they persist and bioaccumulate in the environment, it is recognised that there is no safe threshold for their release.

Ultimately, despite years of research and multiple solutions in development, the search for a bio-based and biodegradable material to replace PVA has remained limited by three key factors: poor performance in use (shelf-life stability, mechanical strength, barrier properties); high raw material price; and, lack of low-cost, scalable, and sustainable production processes.

The development of a bio-based and biodegradable material that could match performance, price point, and manufacturability of water-soluble PVA film currently used in detergent packaging could avoid the release of up to 90,000 tonnes/year of PVA in the EU and 400,000 tonnes/year globally.

Inspired by nature, Xampla has developed a next-generation bio-based and biodegradable material produced from plant proteins. By harnessing the natural ability of plant proteins to self-assemble, we have created a new class of materials with remarkable functional properties: Supramolecular Engineered Protein (SEP). SEP can be used to produce a range of materials with highly controlled properties, including water-soluble films.

With Innovate UK support, we will develop our bio-based and biodegradable dissolvable home care sachets as a replacement for laundry detergent and dishwasher tablet pods. We will also develop personal care sachets for zero-waste shampoo and conditioner sachets. The outputs from this project will support the UK's ambition to become a world leader in sustainable packaging.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

XAMPLA LTD £470,897 £ 329,628


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