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NZ's first impact fund invests in Auckland company Grounded

Grounded, the sustainable packaging supplier, has been the latest business to receive investment from the Impact Enterprise Fund, New Zealand’s first impact investment fund.

The Auckland-based business supplies a range of sustainably sourced packaging, including mailer boxes and bags for e-commerce, as well as pouches and wrappers for food products.

A number of Grounded products replace conventional unrecyclable oil-based films with bio- based, certified home compostable films.

Grounded co-founder Ben Grant says that the investment is a significant backing of their mission to change the way New Zealand products are packaged.

Grant says, “Packaging plays an important role when it comes to branding, transportation and prolonging the shelf life of goods, but the complexity of supply chains makes it hard for businesses to be certain that their packaging is truly sustainable.”

“Our end-to-end platform will make it easy for businesses to shop for and customise sustainable state of the art packaging from around the world. Basically, we want to make it easy for businesses to do the right thing when it comes to their packaging,” he says.

The Grounded range of sustainable packaging includes plastic-free products, packaging made from bio-based or recycled materials, and products with non-toxic inks.

Impact Enterprise Fund board chair Paul Majurey says he welcomes the innovation Grounded brings to the packaging space as an example of private sector action creating positive outcomes that help address a nationwide problem.

He says, “This kind of innovation lays down the challenge to other businesses who know they need to change. We know New Zealanders care about waste especially plastic waste which is so destructive for our natural environment.”

Majurey says, “Grounded is part of a wider step-change were seeing, responding to consumers who increasingly expect to be able to make purchases that don’t create problems with waste. Its encouraging to see action in the private sector New Zealand’s waste problem can’t be solved by government alone.”

The investment in Grounded is the third for the Impact Enterprise Fund (IEF), which was established as New Zealand’s first impact investment fund in 2018 by the Akina Foundation, New Ground Capital and Impact Ventures.

Impact investment is the practice of intentionally investing in order to seek a social or environmental outcome, along with a financial return. Other IEF investments to date have been made with digital health service provider Melon Health, and organic fertiliser and crop protection producer Waikaitu.

The announcement of the investment coincides with the release of a research report into waste in New Zealand by the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor, Professor Juliet Gerrard.

The report 'Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand' lays out challenges for the Government to address through mechanisms like product design, product stewardship and the move to a circular economy.

Grounded are mentioned in the report and are encouraged by the recommended direction outlined to reduce plastic waste. Grounded co-founder Josh Kempton noted that Grounded share the Government’s vision for Aotearoa in 2030, where the majority of food is packaged using either reusable, recyclable or compostable materials, leaving zero waste.