Phantm, a Melbourne-based circular-economy platform that is making inroads with some of the world’s biggest brands, has raised $2 million in an oversubscribed seed round to help businesses wean themselves off their use of plastics.
Backed by Blacknova VC, Salus Ventures and CoVentures VC, Phantm is on a mission to provide an independent pathway for businesses to adopt sustainable options for their packaging and product solutions.
Rather than encouraging plastic recycling, Phantm seeks out sustainable alternatives to enable businesses to create a circular regenerative natural materials economy.
The company notes that economic factors, infrastructure limitations and government regulations make recycling challenging, and instead it promotes natural materials such as seaweed, fungi, cellulose, pulp and biodegradable PHA-based materials as compelling alternatives.
The tech startup has built a platform to help organisations track and reduce the amount of plastic waste they produce while working to transition to more environmentally conscious alternatives.
Led by co-founder Elliot Costello, Phantm is currently working with coffee giant Starbucks Australia and plant-label specialist Norwood Industries using its ART (Assess, Reduce, Transition) methodology to help the businesses track their progress towards becoming plastic-free while also cutting costs.
"We're in the midst of a plastic crisis, and recycling alone cannot solve it,” says Costello, the Phantm CEO.
“The market has been demanding alternatives and it's time to embrace the range of different materials that can replace petrochemical plastics so that we can finally turn virgin plastic off at the tap.
“The enthusiasm from investors across the country is really exciting and shows the dedication to ‘deplastifying’ Australian businesses."
Phantm, which is chaired by Monique Conheady, the co-founder of Flexicar and a former executive at Hertz Australia, utilises its ‘verified understanding’ to assist brands that otherwise are hesitant to navigate the complexities of plastic reduction.
“We bring the expertise that helps firms pull back the layers, ensuring they're taking the right steps towards positive change,” says Edward Whitehead, Phantm’s head of strategy.
“Businesses can’t just leapfrog into perfection, however it's important they work transparently to improve, be better and do better.”
Although it is currently focused on the Australian market, Phantm has ambitions to take its platform to Asia, North America and Europe in a bid to support regions with significant plastic consumption and limited recycling infrastructure.
Phantm notes the plastic industry is currently valued at more than US$600 billion ($934 billion) with consumption expected to nearly double by 2050 at the current pace of growth. It says only 9 per cent of plastics are recycled globally, with contamination and mixed plastics often hampering recycling efforts.
“This is in addition to the reduced quality when recycling plastics, which not only restricts reusability but also incurs higher costs compared to producing new virgin plastic,” says Phantm.
“These economic factors, infrastructure limitations, and diverse regulations make recycling challenging, which makes the increasing emergence of natural materials a compelling alternative to tap into.”
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