UK startup Aeropowder has created a sustainable alternative to polystyrene with their thermal packaging material, pluumo, made from waste feathers from the poultry industry.
Pluumo is a food-grade packaging material that is made up of 95% waste feathers from feathers not suitable for down, along with a 5% mix of a bio-binder, wrapped in a compostable sheet – all of which is biodegradable.
Pluumo was made by two British entrepreneurs Elena Dieckmann and Ryan Robinson to directly challenge polystyrene, a non-recyclable plastic product made from non-sustainable materials, that is harming the planet.
Feathers are strong, lightweight, and insulate against heat and cold. Using surplus feathers, which would otherwise be converted into a low grade animal feed, Aeropowder creates a high performance insulation textile covered with compostable food-grade liners, enabling more sustainable deliveries and embracing a circular economy.
Poultry is one of the world’s most popular sources of meat, with 134 million chickens being consumed daily. Feathers make up around 5% of a bird’s weight. These feathers are a significant waste disposal issue for the poultry industry and are either incinerated or turned into low-grade animal feed. Around 10,000 tonnes of waste feathers produced every day in the world, while in the UK alone, 1000 tonnes of waste feathers are produced each week.
Aeropowder say: “Packaging is important. Especially so when it is needed to protect items from changes in temperature during transport. But often such materials are made out of expanded polystyrene that has a devastating impact on the environment.
“This is where pluumo comes in. Surplus feathers have been turned into a unique, high performance insulation textile and then covered with a compostable food grade liner. The result is a product that can be used to replace conventional polystyrene packaging and enable more sustainable deliveries.”
Aeropowder originally started as a student project in late 2015. During this time, they pitched their idea of turning poultry waste into sustainable packaging materials at the Mayor of London’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur Competition and won.
Elena Dieckmann and Ryan Robinson, an engineer and a biologist respectively, have since formed partnerships with major companies within the poultry industry who are keen to help them on their journey, as well as material manufacturers who are interested in the potential of chicken feathers.
Images: © Nadine Brandt
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com