In Conversation With Vegware


Published on 06/01/2021

E – Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us. Vegware is known for being the leading specialist in plant-based compostable packaging, and for us at Skinny Bakery a fantastic resource to present our cakes in. But what was the initial eureka moment or impetus that started Vegware as a company?

V – It all started with a spoon…

Vegware founder and CEO Joe Frankel was working in California when his wife brought home a spoon made from plant starch.

Joe was so taken with the idea that once they had returned to Edinburgh, he invested his family’s savings in bioplastic resin, and Vegware became a limited company in 2008.

E – What drives the development of new types of raw material for the products that you use?

V – We want to provide a full range of plant-based compostable foodservice disposables, from hot cups to cutlery, tableware to takeaway containers. That means our clients can make the full switch to sustainable alternatives from conventional plastic packaging. Moving to compostable catering disposables means that food and packaging waste can be recycled together, providing the only true recycling solution for zero waste in foodservice.

E – Now that we are using Vegware containers for our cakes, how should our customers best dispose of the pots after use, and how long can they be reused for storing other items?

V – Vegware plant-based foodservice disposables are designed to be commercially composted with food waste where accepted. In commercial composting, used Vegware turns into nutrient-rich soil improver for future use.

Where there is no access to industrial composting facilities, used Vegware should be put in general waste. Vegware’s takeaway packaging is made from plants using renewable, lower carbon, recycled or reclaimed materials, and these sustainability benefits still apply no matter what happens to them after use.

E – There is a lot of differing information out there relating to bio-plastics, especially because of single use plastics and most recently how this relates to bio-plastic straws. What would you tell our customers about this or like them to know?

V – ‘Bioplastics’ can be a confusing phrase indeed, as can ‘biodegradable’!

So what’s the difference between biodegradable and compostable? Same process, different breakdown speeds. Biodegradable tells us nothing about timescales – for example, wood is biodegradable, but a log cabin can stand for generations. Compostable means that packaging can break down in under 12 weeks in composting conditions, and is therefore suitable for industrial composting.

The term bioplastic is a vague as biodegradable. It can mean many things. It can refer to plastics that are bio-based (this is, not made from oil), biodegradable or both. This means that some bioplastics can be made from plants but are not compostable, and others are compostable, but are still made from oil.

All Vegware products are made from plants and are compostable.

E – For you as a company what is the best piece of information you could pass on about composting within the waste industry and your products?

V – Waste activism is at the heart of Vegware’s award-winning environmental services.
Since 2012, our Environmental team have been forging links with the waste sector, identifying new routes to commercial composting and running large-scale trials at industrial composting facilities. Every year, we expand our clients’ access to trade composting routes through partnerships with the waste sector.

Now, trade composting collections for Vegware now cover 71% of the UK’s urban population, serving 54 of the UK’s largest cities. We are also working with composters in Ireland, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, the US and many markets where biowaste is seen as a key part of the circular economy.

E – What new and innovative products are in the pipeline for Vegware?

V – We pride ourselves on an extensive range that puts product quality and functionality at the forefront. We introduce dozens of new innovative products each year made from plant-based materials. In 2020 we have been delighted to launch new sizes of a long-time customer favourite, our sustainably-sourced Bon Appetit bowls, CE-marked cold cups made from renewable PLA and our latest launch, wooden cutlery packs.

E – Finally if you could have access to our bakery for one day what sort of cakes would you make?

V – Great question! It would have to be the carrot pearls, I absolutely love carrot cake!

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