Alternative plastic start-up wins KPMG Nature Positive Challenge

21 June 2022 3 min. read
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Launched in March, the KPMG Nature Positive Challenge to support local eco-startups has announced its inaugural winner: alternative plastic producer ULUU.

Alternative plastic start-up ULUU has been awarded a $100,000 grant by KPMG, as the inaugural winner of the professional services firm’s Nature Positive Challenge aimed at supporting local ventures working on environmental and biodiversity solutions.

Based out of Western Australia, ULUU uses sustainably-farmed seaweed combined with fermenting saltwater microbes to produce durable yet biodegradable carbon negative polymers as an alternative to all types of plastics, with applications ranging from packaging to furniture and apparel.

Alternative plastic start-up wins KPMG Nature Positive Challenge

The company was founded in 2019 by oceanographer Julia Reisser and former BHP strategy & innovation principal Michael Kingsbury.

“As a young startup with a mission to replace plastics with materials that are good for the world, to win the KPMG Nature Positive Prize is a huge endorsement of our vision,” commented Reisser. “The prize money, and the advisory support from KPMG, will be instrumental in helping us hone our strategy and ensure ULUU delivers the significant environmental and social impacts we believe it can.” 

In announcing the winners, KPMG Australia chief executive officer Andrew Yates said that, “ULUU stood out because of its unique application of synthetic biology to solve a massive environmental challenge: plastic. The judging panel was impressed by the science behind ULUU, and by the team’s approach to building a carbon negative supply chain with positive social and economic impacts.”

Launched earlier this year, the KPMG Nature Positive Challenge judging panel consisted of six experts in the areas of natural capital, biodiversity, climate tech, impact investing and innovation, who together assessed more than 50 submissions from Australian start-ups. Four finalists were selected based on the criteria of business model, leadership team, innovation, nature positive impact, and the scalability of their solutions.

With the opportunity to pitch to industry, business, science, and community partners at a KPMG showcase in September, and benefit from $200,000 worth of scale-up services in areas such as consulting and tax, the other finalists included Agronomeye, an agri digital twin to measure and optimise natural capital; AirSeed, which uses tree-planting drones and machine learning to regenerate land at scale; and SaaS ecological toolkit provider Ecocene.

Carolin Leeshaa, KPMG’s Global Leader Natural Capital & Biodiversity, noted that that the four winners covered integral themes in the nature positive movement, including reforestation, restoration, regenerative technology, and resource circularity. “What really stood out for us was the remarkable innovative spirit of Australian start-ups and their commitment to make it real. The potential has only just begun to be tapped.”