Natupla: Natural Plastic

Natupla: Natural Plastic

Single-use plastic alternative from starch

Natupla: Natural Plastic

The Colombian start-up Natupla (Natural Plastic) is developing a starch-based plastic alternative. The biodegradable innovative solution of Natupla is aiming to replace single-use plastic packaging material and in that way create a positive impact on the environment and support the local starch producers and farmers at the same time. For this reason, Natupla has been chosen as the ISC3 Start-up of the month for September 2022.

Year of Foundation:


Addresses the following SDGs:

SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production), SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth)

profile picture of female founder from Colombia
Katerin Carrillo (CEO & co-founder)
white pot filled with Biodegradable plastic material in pellets
Biodegradable plastic material in pellets
spaghetti-like looking thermoplastic starch (TPS) in strips
Thermoplastic starch (TPS) in strips

Innovative family business

Natupla officially started in March 2021 where Katerin Carrillo (CEO & co-founder) and her father Ramon Carrillo started to design the business model for producing a single-use plastic alternative from locally sourced starch. For more than five years, they have experimented with the idea, that was initially triggered by the inconformity with single-use plastic even in their personal lives. The family business was focusing on bio-based polymer for arts and crafts, and they started thinking how they could use their knowledge in starch-based polymers to handle the problem with single-use plastic. After they formulated the business plan and elaborated further on the idea, Katerin got the opportunity to participate in the program Business ideas for development” of the CIM/GIZ as part of the Colombian diaspora in Germany.
“This program supported us to connect with the market, fund the first part of the research and to build entrepreneurial skills. Being part of the CIM program, together with our idea and trust in our abilities to bring this idea to life, we founded Natupla“
, Katerin explains. The two founders together have more than 25 years of experience as entrepreneurs working in managing small and medium businesses and the development of bio-based polymer materials as air-dry clay. Due to his role as a co-founder in a family business, Mr. Carrillo has plenty of experience in business development specifically and a strong background in the chemical expertise in polymers development, as well as the technification and automation of processes through specialized machine development. Katerin has grown up working in the family business and learning from her father's business acumen. She is an Industrial Engineer with a specialization in Social Intervention processes and a Master’s in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Beyond that, the start-up team is supported by a researcher with +5 years of experience in biodegradable plastics development and a team of 3 people that support sporadically with operative work on the day by day.

Local starch-based plastic alternative

Natupla is creating a cost-efficient process to process starch in Colombia that allows to give it the necessary properties comparable to conventional plastic material and at the same time stays biodegradable.
“Many of the solutions you can find available in the market use the starch as a “load” for another polymer. Our goal is to make a flexible packaging to replace single-use plastic that is 100% made of starch“
, Katerin explains. Natupla keeps working in the R&D to develop more use cases and higher efficiencies.
"We have a clear social and environmental purpose, but we don’t want to use them only as marketing strategy. Our strategy is to be clear, to teach, and to keep things transparent in a sector where nowadays you find many green-washing solutions."
The primary goal of Natupla is to assess and improve their product's environmental impact. Second, they want to create a product with added value and thus help the local communities that are currently working with starch. According to Katerin, there are starch sources available that can not be used for food purposes. These industry-driven crops already exist but farmers are not benefiting enough from its production, hence, there is a great potential to work together with them and technify their processes to obtain better yields and higher incomes. The start-up focusses currently on application as packaging material with the aim to penetrate the food packaging market in the future, for example with packaging for exported fruits and vegetables.

Next steps at Natupla

Natupla will be testing their MVP and the business model for the next 6 months to refine it and have it ready to launch at the end of the year. With their innovative approach, Natupla, who joined the ISC3 Global Start-up Service in August 2021, is actively contributing to SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production)and SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth).