Daphna Nissenbaum is the CEO and Co-Founder of TIPA®, a leading developer of compostable packaging, founded in 2010.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Before I established TIPA, I was working in managerial roles in risk management and software solutions. Throughout each of my roles, though, I had a keen interest in the environment.
I started TIPA in 2010 alongside my co-founder Tal Neuman to offer a viable solution for the plastic waste crisis. Ahead of the curve, I recognised the urgent need to revolutionise packaging systems and reduce plastic pollution all across the world.
My vision was for flexible packaging to have the same end-of-life as an orange peel while maintaining the qualities of conventional plastics that we have come to expect, including durability, transparency and sealability.
Today, we offer various types of packaging solutions for both the food and fashion industries for our portfolio of customers in Europe, North America and Australia. All our packaging adhere to the highest standard of quality for compostable certifications.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
The idea for TIPA was inspired by an issue I had with one of my children about the amount of plastic water bottles he would take with him to school. Some days he would come back with them reused, and other days they would be thrown away.
It was here, where I said to him ‘we have to think about what we do with packaging’. The idea sparked and I considered how we can make packaging that don’t leave plastic waste. TIPA was born out of the idea that packaging could break down post-consumption to return to the earth, not polluting soil and water like conventional plastic does.
How did you achieve awareness?
As well as ensuring the success of TIPA, I was keen to spread awareness of the issues of plastic pollution, its effects on the environment and the solutions available. We took the time and money to invest in public relations, marketing, and social media to engage with as many people as possible, educating through thought leadership articles, blogs, interviews and so on.
From a business perspective, I understood the importance of working with customers aligned with similar views to TIPA. As a pioneer in this field, I built on our connections and worked with a network of organisations looking to change their policies and practices to become more environmentally friendly.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
I am so proud to see TIPA grow as a market leader in the space of compostable packaging, and we have been particularly successful in gaining funds from our network and industry.
Most recent funding round in January 2022 secured over £51 million in funding from our strategic and financial investors. I am honoured to have such funding, as this comes from investors that genuinely care about the environment and related to our mission.
To date, we have raised over £107 million in funding. All rounds of funding has been designated to supporting TIPA’s rapid growth, and to also enable a broader response to the growing market demand and continue to position us as a world leader in compostable packaging solutions.
What are the key successes?
Reflecting on the growth of TIPA, I am very proud to have created a company focused on combatting the plastic packaging crisis.
My first key success was getting TIPA off the ground, proving our packaging can perform as well as traditional plastic and securing our first customers. Now, we work with big names such as Gabriela Hearst, Scotch & Soda, Riverford Organics and Waitrose Duchy Organics. I am pleased to see our customers are happy with our packaging, and we constantly receive inquiries from global players for a sustainable solution. From this key success, we now have operations in Europe, North America, and Australia.
As well as business success, I am particularly proud of the dedicated team we have at TIPA, all working to help fight plastic pollution.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Before TIPA, most alternatives to plastic packaging on the market did not fully meet requirements necessary to be applied to high end products in the food and fashion industries. We were a pioneer in creating a material that fits into existing machinery and hits all necessary conditions.
At the moment we are facing a unique challenge, as many countries around the world favour recycling as their holy grail to deal with the plastic waste crisis. But in recent years the whole world was exposed to research proving that recycling, especially flexible packaging, just doesn’t work and we cannot solely rely on this as a solution. TIPA offers a solution that does work: a packaging that goes back to nature after use, leaving zero waste behind.
We have also been facing the worry that potential customers express about moving to compostable packaging: will it look different? Will it perform the same? I have always ensured potential customers that our compostable packaging performs exactly the same as their original packaging, made from conventional plastic, but with the added bonus of giving back to nature, as our packaging can be safely composted to revive soils to grow.
Another challenge is the fact that some countries still don’t have industrial composting facilities and some that have organic waste stream – like here in the UK – do not allow throw the compostable packaging there. On that issue, we are working with governments to legislate composting and build more industrial composting facilities, to ensure we do not condemn even more plastic to rot in landfills. Parallel to that, we offer plenty of home compostable packaging, which one can dispose of in his backyard’s or porch’s composter.
It is easy to do it and as I said before, we invest a lot of time writing articles and blogs about how to pull through a home composter, in which you can throw both your organic waste and your compostable packaging. With the compost produced there, you can enrich your plants – and save waste from throwing away in landfills.
What are your plans now/for the future?
2023 is an exciting year for TIPA. Capitalising on our success in our regions, we have recently started our local production both in the U.S and in Australia, which means we are about to reduce our footprint extensively, and our customers will gain much shorter lead time. We are already producing in Europe, of course, for a few years now.
In addition, we are gladly watching the massive attention sustainability gets from all fashion brands, big and small. We have been working with the fashion industry for quite some time now, but in 2023 we plan to strike while the iron is hot and put much more effort to convince brands to switch to compostable packaging.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Over the years, I have learned so much in business, that I now regard as key to my success.
I would say to anyone thinking of starting their own journey, if you are passionate about something, go for it, you will always wonder what if, if you don’t. I would also say surrounding yourself with the right people whose goals and vision align with that of the company’s is key to its success. Finally, I would advise anyone looking to go into business to become the absolute expert in the field, become the go-to person and standout as much as possible.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
I have a list of five factors I have used to grow my organisation:
- Creativity – striving to reach innovative technological advances
- Professionalism – absorbing industry knowledge and educating the market
- Urgency – racing to solve the global plastic waste crisis affecting our planet
- Perseverance – paving a viable path to a sustainable future and staying on course
- Agility – ability to be flexible and think freely when rerouting is necessary
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“We can’t solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them” (Albert Einstein)
“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” (James N. Watkins)
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