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Biomimicry Examples in Action: Minimizing Food Waste with GreenPod Labs

Today, I want to share with you an inspiring story of biomimicry in action - one that is close to my heart — a tale of how a small yet passionate startup is using biomimicry to tackle the global challenge of food waste. 

This is the journey of GreenPod Labs, and its founder, Deepak, who has harnessed the language of plants to extend the life of fruits and vegetables, and can potentially revolutionize the way we preserve food.

Deepak's story begins with a profound respect for nature and a clear-eyed view of the problem at hand. "Globally, about one-third of the food produced is lost before it reaches the consumer," Deepak explains.

GreenPod Labs is one of the finest biomimicry product examples as it looks to address a critical challenge using a nature-inspired solution. Image: GreenPod Labs website

Food waste isn't just a staggering loss of resources; it's a missed opportunity to feed those in need and a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. What if we could ‘communicate’ with the very food that's perishing and empower it to last longer? 

Personally, I just love a fresh banana or avocado.

The Biomimicry Solution:

This question led Deepak and his team at GreenPod Labs to develop a solution that is as elegant as it is effective. They created sachets that release natural compounds at ambient temperature, activating the immune systems of fruits and vegetables post-harvest.

GreenPod Labs vs a control test. Speaking in the language of plants - GreenPod Labs is able to communicate directly to fruit and vegetables in a way that they understand.This is just one of the many ways we can use biomimicry in our products and businesses. Here's a list of 10 more biomimicry product examples. Image: GreenPod Labs

This process, inspired by the way plants naturally defend themselves, can extend the shelf life of produce by 40 to 60 percent. It's a game-changer, especially for the developing world without access to cold storage.

Speaking nature's language: when a pre-harvested plant gets impacted / attacked, it can communicate to other neighboring plants via volatile emissions. This biological language is what GreenPod Labs looks to speak to extend the shelf-life of their plants. 

Falling in love with the problem

The above is an outtake from our free ebook: A field guide to biomimicry. The Challenge to Biology Biomimicry Framework is the approach we use in the Biomimicry Practitioner Programme.  

Deepak's approach to building a nature-inspired startup is what we call the "Challenge to Biology" approach in biomimicry. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the excitement of a solution (even biomimicry for that fact), but GreenPod Labs approached applying biomimicry in the most effective way… starting with a challenge and only then turning to biology for answers. 

"Be passionate about the problem, not the solution," - Deepak

Falling in love with the problem is crucial for biomimicry startups because it ensures that the nature-inspired innovation truly addresses a need. When we’re holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you have a hammer, you might think everything needs to be fixed just by hitting it. Using the same solution not fit for a range of problems happens surprisingly easily!

Lesson learnt: Avoid the pitfall of being a solution in search of a problem.

How the Ray of Hope Prize Helped Greenpod Labs Journey:

The Biomimicry Institute has played a pivotal role in a number of bio-inspired startups, including the GreenPod Labs' journey. The Biomimicry Institute's continuous support and belief in Deepak's vision were instrumental in his success. After being accepted but not winning, they encouraged him to reapply (and rejoin) to this leading biomimicry accelerator program. When he did, GreenPod Labs was later that year named the winner of the Ray of Hope Prize in 2022. 

Interestly, GreenPod business was amplified when they saw how other businesses were looking to apply biomimicry not just once, but again and again. There are no shortcuts in life, but if there was one - it would be learning from others who have come before us (such as mentors, businesses or other leading biomimicry business examples).

The Biomimicry Institute's commitment to nurturing nature-inspired entrepreneurs is a testament to their commitment to bringing biomimicry to life. Click on the airtable to see a complete list of all the Ray of Hope Prize Startups

The Ray of Hope Prize is an annual competition aiming to accelerate biomimicry startups. Here is a list of the Top 5 Biomimicry incubators, competitions and accelerators and how the Ray of Hope Prize compares.

Looking to the Future of GreenPod Labs

As GreenPod Labs looks to the future, scaling their technology is the next frontier. 

"How do you scale a technology to make it work across all these conditions?" Deepak ponders. 

It's a challenge, but one that he and his team are ready to meet head-on. With their scientific approach to experimentation, nature-inspired innovations and right product market fit, GreenPod Labs is poised to make a significant impact on reducing food waste in India and beyond.

In Summary

GreenPod Labs exemplifies the power of biomimicry in action. It's a reminder that by looking to nature for inspiration, we can find sustainable solutions to our most complex challenges. 

As we continue to learn from biomimicry startups like GreenPod Labs, we hope this blog may contribute to a world where human ingenuity and nature's wisdom come together to create a life-friendly future for all.

Wild regards
Alistair Daynes, Biomimicry Practitioner



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