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The materials for a future without plastic
14 October 2021
Johanna Baare, COO and co-founder of traceless, shares with us their story and exciting future plans
Johanna and Anne met in a German incubator program called ‘Project Together’ and, over that time, they built more than a friendship, they developed a common mission to make the biggest possible contribution to solve the global plastic pollution. “When the program ended, we both enjoyed our collaboration so much that we just continued – and Anne ultimately asked me to join her in founding traceless”.
traceless founders: Johanna Baare and Anne Lamp 2021
The way they work towards that mission is by creating sustainable materials to replace plastics in a wide range of single-use applications. All products made of traceless materials degrade under natural composting conditions and are free of hazardous additives or solvents.
More about their journey in Johanna’s words:
What has been your biggest challenge since you founded traceless?
One of the hardest challenges has to do with the fact that traceless got founded in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. This means, for over a year, it was not possible for us to bring the entire team together in one room. At the end of August however, we had our first team weekend and finally met with everyone in person! Besides not being able to bring the team together in real life, it also was not always easy to establish personal relationships with potential customers. On the other hand, looking back, this also was a blessing in disguise because it gave us the opportunity to remotely get in contact and impact way more industry partners than we could have met in person.
What makes your materials different to other biodegradable plastics?
Even though traceless materials function like plastic in the way they can be applied, we prefer not to call it plastic. traceless disrupts the plastics market by going beyond the sustainability of bioplastics – from just biobased to using the residues of the agricultural industry avoiding the food conflict. And from industrially degradable to actually compostable in the environment, avoiding further plastic pollution. Furthermore, we don’t use any hazardous additives or solvents in their production and the materials itself, which in turn means our materials are safe for ourselves as humans and for our planet, including all nature and animals. Another beneficial aspect of traceless materials is the up to 87% lower CO2 emissions it emits compared to conventional plastic.
traceless coat liquid
What has been your experience with IP?
“...intellectual property management is very important for traceless since it assures our freedom to operate and to build a long-term profitable and successful business”
Dr. Anne Lamp, my co-founder and the inventor of the traceless technology, had gained important practical experience in commercial product development for another of her four patents before we founded traceless. That experience helped us significantly when it came to registering traceless’ first patent – but of course we still also relied on the support of our professional patent lawyer. The same accounts for our trademarking, despite me having focused on the topic for a while before, we did and do use strategic legal support where needed. In general, intellectual property management is very important for traceless since it assures our freedom to operate and to build a long-term profitable and successful business.
traceless coat cardboard
“Based on a sound IP management, innovative, green technologies can assure long-term operability, gain profitability, and thereby ultimately assure to create the positive impact they’re set out to realize.”
By securing our intellectual property and the traceless brand through a mixture of patents, trade secrets and trademarks, we avoid others to copy our technology and products. Based on a sound IP management, innovative, green technologies can assure long-term operability, gain profitability, and thereby ultimately assure to create the positive impact they’re set out to realize.
How would you describe this stage at traceless and what are your plans for the future?
“...we are already starting to plan the next bigger production plant that will allow us to not only realize market pilots but substitute plastics in entire product lines”
It is a very exciting, but also challenging stage! As it’s our goal to substitute plastic in as many products that can potentially end up in the environment as possible, we need to scale up our production fast. We’re currently building our first pilot production plant near Hamburg. It will allow us to bring the first products to market, testing them with end-consumers in first pilot projects. In the long-term however, we need much more production capacity than that. Therefore, we are already starting to plan the next bigger production plant that will allow us to not only realize market pilots but substitute plastics in entire product lines, to maximize our contribution to solving the global plastic pollution.
ISI-Zentrum für Gründung, Business & Innovation, where traceless pilot production plant is located
What advice would you give to future entrepreneurs?
My advice would be to always challenge yourself, while remembering you are not in this alone. It may feel so at times, and the path is not always easy. If you have a great idea, in my eyes it is important to convince others of it, get together! Together we can change the world!
traceless film use case packaging for food
traceless is already receiving support from the sector: it won the IMPACT AWARD and it was placed in the ranking of the Top 10 sustainable packaging startups by EU-startups.com. At 4iP Council, we feel very fortunate to get to know founders like Johanna and Anne, that use their incredible talent to change our world for the better.