Designing and manufacturing non-plastic packaging solutions

Through the Roux Institute’s partnership team, Tanbark CEO Melissa LaCasse met future board members and clients.

Company Overview:  

Tanbark aims to solve the modern problem of plastic waste by leveraging Maine’s legacy of pulp and paper, using molded fiber packaging as a replacement for rigid single-use plastic. Type 3 molded fiber comes from sustainably produced biomass, making it home-compostable and earth friendly. Tanbark uses their innovative processes to create custom, high-end, sustainable packaging for companies needing on-shore and low-volume solutions. 

Roux Institute Benefits: 

To date, Tanbark has been involved with each domain of the Roux Institute, a true testament to the level of talent and resources the Roux Institute is able to provide companies. In academia, Tanbark explored a lifecycle analysis of their products vs. single-use plastics with faculty member Matthew J. Eckelman, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern University’s College of Engineering. 

It was through the Roux Institute’s partnership team that Tanbark’s CEO, Melissa LaCasse, met many of her sales prospects. Two of her board members, Steve Femino and Deb Mills-Scofield, were LaCasse’s mentors during the Founder Residency. LaCasse credits the Roux Institute with giving her the tools to fundraise, the ability to get into rooms with investors, and the comfort to negotiate.  

Looking Ahead:  

LaCasse is prototyping for companies looking to replace plastic and working alongside the Roux Institute’s Jack Lesko, director of engineering research. Tanbark will begin the production and shipping of product from their manufacturing facility in southern Maine in early 2023; from there, Tanbark will springboard to a second larger mill, located in rural Maine near the pulp supply, infrastructure, and labor force of the legacy mill sites. 

The Founder Residency allowed us to supercharge momentum and access, gave us a place from which to apply rigor and discipline to our fundraising and strategic plan, and opened doors that would have otherwise been closed. The Roux also matched Tanbark with mentors, two of whom ended up on our board.

Melissa LaCasse, CEO


The Roux Institute, built on partnerships