Redefining the production of sustainable food packaging: the story of Martina Ivanova

Meet Martina Ivanova, the winner of the 2023 RIS LEADERS competition, who founded Peelo in 2019 to reduce food waste by half.

The company produces reusable packaging using wax coating technology, replacing hand-made processes with automated ones. This allows them to scale production, satisfy global demand, and fulfil their mission of delivering better products. With a diverse background in marketing and advertising, Martina’s career took a unique turn when she decided to step into the world of entrepreneurship with her eco-friendly beeswax food packaging.

Martina and her co-founder, Thomas

Building a business from ground zero

Martina’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to explore diverse horizons, from working with international brands on their go-to market strategies to freelancing and travelling. After returning home from her travels, she knew her next venture would be the production of beeswax food packaging where she saw great potential.

Recognising the potential of beeswax wraps, Martina and her co-founder set out to develop a new technology that would enable large-scale production while maintaining the product’s eco-friendly attributes. Their new brand Peelo served as a way to connect all of their previous experience and helped them deploy a new product into the market, from the development of the technology to finding the right market fit.

Finding a unique way to produce beeswax wraps

Beeswax wraps have been around since ancient Egypt, however, in a very basic form. Peelo is one of the many brands around the world that have decided to bring them back in a new way with an improved ingredient list and higher long-lasting quality. What sets Martina and her team apart is their innovative approach to producing beeswax wraps. Instead of following traditional methods, Martina and her team developed a custom technology that revolutionised the production process. By waxing whole rolls of fabric instead of individual pieces, they not only increased efficiency but also created a product with superior quality and longevity.

The product has many positive impacts on our ecosystem and planet – it protects food and keeps it fresh longer, thanks to the conservation properties of beeswax. It is reusable, washable and can be reused 400+ times, eliminating single-use plastics. Each piece of Peelo can substitute more than 300 metres of plastic wrap, making it the perfect solution for keeping food fresh at home.

Being an entrepreneur means constantly evolving

For Martina, the most exciting aspect of her role is the daily challenge and opportunity for growth. Having a physical product sold online to end consumers means living in an ever-changing environment, where a high level of adaptation is required. As an entrepreneur, she thrives on the dynamic nature of her work and the constant evolution it demands. Martina particularly enjoys leveraging data to drive business decisions, which have a direct impact on the business. Her goal this year is to enter new markets, which would allow them to start doing more non-profit activities.

Be brave and embrace learning

Martina’s message to other women in the industry is one of empowerment and resilience. She encourages women to embrace new challenges, pursue their passions, and break free from societal stereotypes.

To aspiring women considering a career in manufacturing, Martina offers the following advice:

“Don’t be afraid to engage in a project even though you might feel like you don’t have the right qualifications. You can learn more than you think and connect with people who share your vision. Dive into things you know very little about because not knowing the limits and barriers is sometimes the best thing that can happen to you. Don’t be put off by the fact that the world of tech and manufacturing might still feel like a primarily male environment. Despite the stigma there is still around it, there are many programmes that support women. If you are passionate about this field, don’t let any assumptions stop you!”

Martina Ivanova

Apply now for LEADERS 2024!

Are you a female innovator? Do you have a solution that addresses manufacturing-related challenges? Then, take a look at the LEADERS 2024 Call and apply now! You can submit your application until 15 July 2024.

All information about the RIS LEADERS Call 2024

About the RIS LEADERS competition

In November 2023, the “LEADERS – Women Innovators in Manufacturing at EIT Regional Innovation Scheme” prize was awarded by EIT Manufacturing as part of the Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) for the third time. Thereby, EIT Manufacturing wants to draw attention to women innovators and women in the manufacturing industry, as women are still underrepresented in this sector.

For the final pitch, six candidates were selected, whose projects play a leading role in developing solutions that address manufacturing-related challenges with strong environmental or societal impact.

What is the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS)?

More information about the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS)

Get to know the 2023 RIS LEADERS winners!