Packaging Made from Sheep's Wool
The Estonian start-up Woola develops packaging solutions made from wool scraps. After Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and France, the young company now wants to convince online retailers in Germany of its products as well.
More than 200,000 tons of sheep's wool are disposed of unused in Europe every year -– giving away valuable potential for the packaging industry. Anna-Liisa Palatu is convinced of this. Together with Katrin Kabun and Jevgeni Širai, she founded Woola in 2020. The start-up, based in Tallinn in Estonia, produces packaging solutions from wool scraps and has set itself an ambitious goal: to save 50 percent of global consumption of bubble wrap made from fossil fuels by 2030.
For the production of mailing bags, protective sleeves, and bubble wrap, Woola uses wool that is left over as a waste product from sheep shearing. Due to its nature, it is not suitable for the production of yarn for the textile industry. Therefore, in most cases, it is discarded.
However, sheep wool has properties that make it suitable as a packaging material for delicate and fragile goods: it is robust and water-repellent. Therefore the “bubble wool” film is intended to protect goods from breakage and scratches just as effectively as bubble wrap.
After Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and France, Woola is now preparing to enter the German market.
In this short interview, Woola co-founder Anna- Liisa Palatu introduces the start-up.
Honestly and without using buzzwords: how would you explain the start-up to your parents?
Packing goods in bubble wrap for shipping is anything but sustainable and good for our planet – that's exactly what we want to change. Many people don't know that sheep's wool is an untapped and under-appreciated resource. That's because more than 200,000 tons of wool are disposed of unused in Europe every year – often, this wool is burned or buried. As a team, we found that this same wool is enough to meet 120 percent of the world's bubble wrap needs. With our Woola products, we reduce the demand for disposable plastic packaging in e-commerce by offering an alternative, protective packaging made from wool scraps.
How would you describe your business model to a potential partner in a tweet ?
Protect, stand out, and reduce plastic – with Woola packaging made from wool remnants, retailers can ship sensitive goods such as electronics, jewelry, or cosmetics in an environmentally friendly and safe way. And best of all, all products are reusable.
Which companies/customers have you already been able to convince?
Our circle of customers is quite widely spread, yet there is one commonality: our customers ship products that need to be protected. For example, we work with fashion brands that sell jewelry, household cleaning brands like Atmo Home, or even spice manufacturers. Another example is Tanel Veenre, a colorful and experimental jewelry label that switched from custom plastic bubble envelopes to our wool envelopes about a year ago. We hope to soon convince more founders like Tanel from Tanel Veenre that wool packaging is a simple, functional and sustainable way to protect products during shipping. Overall, we see a lot of interest from e-commerce brands across Europe.