It started out as a cracking idea – using eggshells to create a range of disposable tableware.

Now, Martina Zupan has turned her degree show project into a fully-fledged business, winning a number of funding prizes, awards and accolades along the way.

During her fourth year at Edinburgh Napier, Martina designed and produced a product called ‘Colleggtion’ – a disposable circular plate with tearaway cutlery that is made from waste eggshells.

She said: “The idea literally came to me one day as I was making scrambled eggs in the house and after some extensive research I found that despite eggshells carrying a range of beneficial components, very little was actually being done to upcycle waste product.

“I worked closely with research teams at Edinburgh Napier who had some leftover raw materials from various experiments that they were happy for me to use. I started testing it with the eggshells and things fell into place from there.

“I think I’ve managed to produce a sophisticated product that has the potential to highlight a new method of producing sustainable tableware and cutlery – it’s been really exciting to work on.”

Martina’s idea was sparked by becoming dismayed at the lack of recycling options for by-products within the food industry, meaning that potentially beneficial components such as calcium carbonate were simply being lost in landfill.

After graduating, she went on to form Alterwaste – a start-up focused on preventing industrial waste by turning it into sustainable products that will benefit the environment instead of polluting it.

Martina's pioneering work, supported through the University’s Bright Red Triangle, has seen her awarded £10,000 and £15,000 in funding two years in a row at the Scottish EDGE awards. She also scooped a £2,000 prize at the University’s Bright Red Sparks awards, named as winner in the Business for Good category.

Martina continued to pave the way for low-carbon innovation after Alterwaste was accepted into the Climate-KIC Accelerator scheme.

The scheme itself is an 18-month programme delivered by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI), which offers workspace, masterclasses, and coaching as well as up to €60,000 in funding. 

She said: “When I received the email with the delightful news, I was over the moon! It is a fantastic opportunity to take my business further. Having access to help from amazing mentors and business advisors at ECCI along with workshops, training and funding will be a fantastic resource and one I can’t wait to get involved with.”

Now, she splits her time between Bright Red Triangle and the award-winning hub at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation as the momentum behind her business Alterwaste continues to gather pace.

Martina added: “I’m lucky to be in a really great position that I can now split my time between both Bright Red Triangle and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) Hub. Bright Red Triangle is the home of my business, but the ECCI is a low-carbon environment, which will help me grow faster as I learn more about the sector.

Hear more about Martina's journey...