Transforming food waste into sustainable packaging

In our world grappling with plastic pollution and food waste, one eco-warrior has embarked on an inspiring mission to craft a revolutionary solution. Meet Karen Cheah, the entrepreneur behind Alterpacks.

A breakthrough material born from waste 

After months of tenacious research and development, Karen beamed with pride as she finally held the groundbreaking prototype – a paper-like material made from 100% organic waste and plant fibres extracted from food by-products and agricultural refuse. This durable yet biodegradable material can be moulded into any shape, including spill-proof containers that can withstand extreme temperatures.  

Aiming to solve the plastic conundrum and throwaway culture, Karen explained passionately, "There's absolutely no plastics, no coating. And it's able to go from temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius right up to 260 degrees Celsius.” 

Crafting a circular, zero-waste future 

Karen's journey began with a profound realisation – the world's garbage crisis, fuelled by plastics and food waste. Determined to transform this waste into a valuable resource, she founded Alterpacks, a company dedicated to circularity and sustainability.  

"I saw communities choking under their own garbage made of plastics and food waste," she recalled. "I knew I had to create a solution to reduce waste and offer an eco-friendly alternative to traditional packaging."  

Despite immense challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, Karen persevered, converting a room in her mother's house into a laboratory and tirelessly experimenting with collected food waste. Though met with scepticism, her unwavering belief and tangible results gradually won over supporters. 

Pioneering change, inspiring the next generation 

In an industry long dominated by fossil fuels, Alterpacks faces hurdles like consumer pricing expectations. However, Karen remains buoyed by government legislation, growing consumer awareness, and invaluable support like the DBS Foundation Grant, which accelerates Alterpacks' ability to drive sustainable change and enter new markets. 

Perhaps most inspiring is the hope Karen sees in the next generation. “You're really encouraged by the questions that come from this younger generation, because they are the ones spurring us to action. They are the ones who are making us more conscious and making sure that businesses stick to this sustainable drive that they have started on. They are the gatekeepers of the future,” she shared.  

Today, Alterpacks' impact extends globally, with distribution spanning Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and soon Europe and the UK. Karen's vision is a powerful testament that one person's determination can catalyse positive change for our planet.  

"This isn't just a Singapore problem. It's a global problem that we are trying to solve, that of food waste, single use plastics,” Karen affirmed. “And that’s very important because you're not solving just a myopic solution. You're looking at the global solution.” 

Know a business with purpose that could benefit from the DBS Foundation Grant? Tell them about the DBS Foundation Grant today! 

You May Also Like

Recommended for you

Based on your read
Based on similar interests
Last Read