Company in rural Estonia develops system and products to replace plastic bubble wrap packaging with packing materials made from waste wool.
The owners of an e-commerce business wanted to find an alternative to the huge amount of plastic bubble wrap used in their business for packing material, but in searching for alternatives, there was a lack of sustainable and scalable protective packing options. Additionally, 90% of the wool produced in Estonia every year was wasted, likely illegally disposed of as there was no system or infrastructure for farmers to sell their waste wool for other purposes. Woola was a company founded to develop alternative packing materials using waste wool in order to replace plastic bubble wrap.
The project has resulted in replacement of plastic bubble wrap by packing materials made of a sustainable waste product, wool that would have been buried or burned by farmers. A digital platform has been created to facilitate wool exchange in Estonia as well as interaction amongst farmers. The wool-based packing materials can be reused multiple times, so the company has also set up a returns system for customers. Jobs for young people have been created in an area with a lack of employment opportunities, with the available opportunities paying higher than other options and being accessible to those without special machinery skills or the ability to take on physically demanding jobs.
During the course of the project Woola learnt that the problem with waste wool is even more widespread than initially thought. Woola has been contacted by farmers not only from Estonia but many other countries in Europe and worldwide. Sheep farmers offered either to sell or give waste wool away.