Company goal a better floral foam

A better solution to floral foam is the aim of Fasya Amasani Setiawan’s startup business Kreafoam...
A better solution to floral foam is the aim of Fasya Amasani Setiawan’s startup business Kreafoam. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
Startup Dunedin's Audacious programme shines a light on the creative minds of University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic students. This week in the series, The Star reporter Simon Henderson talks to Fasya Amasani Setiawan about an environmentally friendly solution to flower arranging.

The challenge of finding a better way to keep flowers fresh is the aim of a new business created by University of Otago master of entrepreneurship student Fasya Amasani Setiawan.

Miss Setiawan owns a small business in Indonesia called Kreasae, which provides floral arrangements for events such as weddings and engagements.

Interested in sustainability, she wanted to explore ways to create decorations with minimal waste.

In particular, she is interested in finding an alternative to floral foam, a type of green synthetic foam that can absorb and hold water, keeping flowers hydrated and in place.

Floral foam is made from a type of plastic that breaks down into microplastics.

Some scientific studies suggested it released twice as many toxic compounds as other types of regular foam, Miss Setiawan said.

Floral foam was typically not able to be reused, and it was "really, really toxic for the environment", she said.

"So it’s really dangerous, and florists use it all the time, because it's really cheap, it's really convenient, it's really versatile and, especially in Indonesia, we just don't have any other options."

When she started her business, she explored other options that were sustainable.

Those included a floral foam made from wool, but they had to be imported into Indonesia and could be as much as seven times as expensive as plastic floral foam.

"So I was like, ‘oh my God, how do we use this and make our business financially sustainable?’

"Because we can be environmentally sustainable, but we cannot be financially sustainable."

So she decided to set up a new business called Kreafoam to investigate an alternative eco-friendly floral foam that could be created using local Indonesian materials.

"How about we try to make a floral foam that is organic, can be biodegradable and, most importantly, can be made entirely in Indonesia."

As well as providing a solution to using a toxic product, production of a locally made floral foam could provide employment opportunities.

"In my dream, it would be like a community factory.

"If I just can help to provide more employment to the people around the village, it will be nice — it will be great."

Miss Setiawan hopes to research possible materials that could work as a sustainable alternative to floral foam, such as coconut husk, moss or banana stems.

The plan is to develop a minimum viable product first and then trial how it works.

"And then maybe we can scale up from that."