Cardboard recycling cutout on grass (Shutterstock)

Industrial engineer Paul Tasner spent most of his professional career making plastic, specifically blister packs, the plastic casing for consumer products. You know, the kind that are maddeningly hard to open, even with scissors.

Opening the packages frustrated even Tasner. So once his career making plastic blister packs was over, the Californian decided to create biodegradable packaging that would offer the same quality as its plastic counterparts. He wanted the package to be composted into a soil supplement rather than ending up in trash dumps for thousands of years.

He joined forces with a friend, Elena Olivari, who has a background in engineering and design. Together they came up with a way to make consumer packaging from 100-percent recycled plant and paper pulp. They launched their company in 2011 and named it PulpWorks.

Tasner, now 71, set up deals with half a dozen of his old contacts, who use agricultural fibers to create different textures and colors. His company has six partners in five countries on different continents who only use local materials.

Tasner and Olivari are especially excited about their partnership with Tennessee-based Genera Energy. The 8-year-old biotechnology company turns plant fibers and other biomass into fuel, chemicals and other products.

Tasner says proudly that PulpWorks is now at the forefront of green packaging.

“Every package that we produce is a piece of plastic that’s not going to a landfill,” he said. “What could be better than that? Except to doing it a billion times over, and that’s our goal.”