Innovative Croatian CannaPlast in Finals of European Competition

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, Krizevci locals Mario Jembrek, Luka Heljic and Valentino Gudlin, founded the startup CannaPlast back in November last year, and their main idea is the production of hemp plastic.

Although the Croatian CannaPlast startup is only a few months old, they are the only Croatian representative to compete for the top prize among the top 19 candidates in the European Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus – 2021 New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards, where European startups present sustainable and inclusive climate change solutions and answers to pressing environmental challenges.

“Our expectations are high, our idea is very disruptive with the potential to directly and significantly help in the fight against climate change. We looked at the ideas of other teams and they’re really great, but we believe that our team will be the winner. Once we get the necessary financial injection, we’ll go on to develop a prototype. We’re in very close cooperation with the company Bio Blok, which is engaged in the production of building materials from hemp, and has ambitions to expand its product range. With their help, we intend to place our ”plastic” straws in cafes and beach bars on the coast, and if everything goes according to plan, we’ll do it just in time for the tourist season. Bio Blok could also help us a lot in processing only the stem and making capsules. In addition, we intend to engage in crowdfunding in order to provide sufficient funds for the sustainable continuation of business,” explained Mario Jembrek.

Last November, the Croatian CannaPlast startup won first place for their idea at the 2nd Krizevci Hackathon entitled “Local startup, global sustainability” on sustainable and green startup ideas, organised by the Youth Council of Krizevci and the energy cooperative KLIK. The hackathon was the reason for founding the startup in the first place.

“Our startup is currently in its very early stage of business. Our first goal is to make a prototype of a ”plastic’”capsule and ”plastic” straws and glasses, as a demonstration product through which the customer would get an idea of ​​the quality of the material and how it feels and sits in the hand, ie whether it has the same characteristics as real plastic does. We’re currently mostly involved in promotion and networking – from people from the Faculty of Agriculture in Zagreb who help us develop the science behind making hemp plastic, to enterprises and business people who can provide us with the necessary funds to establish a production line. It will also be important to change the legal framework on what materials are allowed for packaging,” said Jembrek, who works as an electrical engineer for solar power projects.

Heljic has many years of experience in developing business on foreign markets and has recently been in charge of developing sustainable construction through their construction section in the Cooperative for Ethical Financing. Gudlin is a student at the Faculty of Agriculture in Krizevci, and Jembrek says that his knowledge of plants, especially hemp, gives the Croatian CannaPlast startup the necessary technical and scientific foundations for the development of their ideas.

Their target customers are plastic bottle manufacturers, such as Atlantic Grupa (Group), Jamnica and Coca Cola, to which they want to offer their hemp capsules, which they will be able to use with their existing machinery.

“This would require very little investment in equipment modernisation, and will bring with it significant benefits in terms of reducing plastic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Our solution would thus be available to the general public in any store, and would function identically to plastic with a very important difference – our bottles would be CO2 negative and biodegradable,” concluded Mario Jembrek.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.


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