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Updated: April 1, 2024 / 2024 Manufacturing Excellence Awards

Manufacturing awards: Impermea is replacing plastics, by using safer coatings on recyclables

Four people stand at marketing booth Photo | Courtesy of Impermea Materials The Impermea team, including founder David Zamarin (left), attends a trade show.
2024 Manufacturing Excellence Awards
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David Zamarin founded his first company, an early foray into nanotechnology – or engineering at the molecular scale – at age 15. He sold that company while still in high school, using the proceeds to research innovation on PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

That knowledge was used in the building of Impermea Materials. Ever since, the company has been innovating to meet demand – the demand of environmental hazards.

Impermea makes advanced materials designed as alternatives to plastics and PFAS, which pose known risks to water and soil, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Impermea is the only company to manufacture safer material coatings in the U.S., said Zamarin, and as far as he’s aware, the world.

Powered by 25 employees at its Framingham site, all are committed to environmental sustainability in developing coatings PFAS-free, non-toxic, water-based, free of fluorine, recyclable, compostable, and repulpable. Its uses are wide-ranging, and include the healthcare industry and textiles, where the coatings include UV ray protection and flame retardancy.

In paper and paperboard packaging, being environmental for the sake of being environmental isn’t enough, said Zamarin.

A bio box for Impermea Materials
A bio box for Impermea Materials

“Our Bio-Pak + OTR 4060 material coatings are water resistant and can be applied to paper and paperboard used for produce, egg cartons, dog food, things like that,” he said. “We provide the best-performing product and just happen to be sustainable doing it.”

The Bio-Pak offers oxygen-barrier benefits and grease resistance, for example.

“We always start with performance first,” said Zamarin. “Customers aren’t willing to pay if the product’s performance is not there.”

This is what sets Bio-Pak + OTR 4060 and Impermea apart.

Where plastic packaging is everywhere, it’s a tall order to get the consumer marketplace to try alternative products, said Zamarin. Paperboard is in the future of products traditionally plastic-packaged: Everything from frozen pizza to mac & cheese to mailing envelopes. Even petroleum jelly could be in paperboard instead of a plastic jar.

“Breaking this cycle of needing plastic is a huge weight to lift,” he said. “We partner with consumer brands as part of our marketing strategy. Consumers are the best voice for the cause.”

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