Category Archives: food waste and recycling

Waste

Why should you start thinking differently about waste?

At Vegware, we want to change the way people think about ‘waste’. This word has connotations of useless, unwanted items that are thoughtlessly discarded. Traditionally, our linear economy has made it easier, faster and cheaper to dump or burn used materials. And the language we use encourages us to become more detached from these processes. But as materials become scarcer and our planet is increasingly strained, we must realise that all products have the potential to become another resource: it all depends on how we treat them.

‘Food waste’ is a perfect example. This material is not waste at all – it is a valuable resource! Not only do our potato peelings and banana peels have the potential to produce gas that can be converted into renewable energy, our food waste can also become a nutrient-rich fertiliser. Composting is the process of handling food waste in a controlled environment, encouraging decomposition by ensuring that the materials have a balance of heat, microbes, oxygen and water. The result: a wonderful, organic product that can be returned to soil and benefit the growth of more food and plants. Dr Anne Bhogal, Senior Research Scientist at ADAS took the time to explain in more detail:

Soils are one of our most precious natural resources, but are under threat due to erosion, compaction and loss of organic matter. Recycling compost back to agricultural land is a valuable way to increase soil organic matter levels and improve soil health which will in turn lead to more sustainable and resilient cropping systems.

Unfortunately, around the world many people do not appreciate the importance of sustaining healthy soil. In the United States, soil is often referred to as ‘dirt’ – which, like ‘waste’, has negative connotations! Few people understand that our ability to grow food is dependent on the quality of this soil. In the UK, our soils are badly damaged: research suggests that with increased soil depletion, there could be only 100 harvests left. We need to protect our soil to ensure food security for ourselves, and the next generation.

Compost has an essential role to play in this protection. Applying compost to land returns valuable nutrients to the soil, that may have been lost due to heavy agricultural practices. As the UK experiences more flooding incidents due to climate change, compost is particularly important as it makes soil more resistant to increased rainfall and stops run-off. But don’t take our word for it! Dr Jane Gilbert, an expert in biological treatment (e.g. composting) processes explained to us why it is so important to increase composting in the UK:

Composting is nature’s way of recycling organic wastes and is as relevant in 2017 as ever before. Britain’s arable soils are suffering from a chronic loss of organic matter and quality composts are an excellent way of helping stem this loss and re-build soil organic carbon. Not only does this improve soil function, it also acts as​ a carbon sink, helping combat climate change.

The research shows that compost can have a key role to play in tackling climate change. The organics recycling sector and agricultural sector have the power to use this valuable resource to restore our soils. But most importantly, we must change our mind-set around organic materials. In nature, there is no ‘dirt’ or ‘waste’. There are only resources that are not being valued and protected. We must change that.

Find out more about the importance of protecting our soils:

ADAS – http://www.adas.uk/

Farmers Weekly (2015) ‘Only 100 harvests left in UK farm soils, scientists warn’ – http://www.fwi.co.uk/news/only-100-harvests-left-in-uk-farm-soils-scientists-warn.htm

Organics Recycling (2016) ‘Combating Climate Change’, Spring 2016: Issue 29, pp. 48-49

WRAP DC-Agri research – http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/digestate-and-compost-agriculture-dc-agri

vegware compostable recycling packaging debate

Vegware responds: Parliament debate on banning non-compostable packaging

A recent petition was circulated which called the UK government to ban all non-recyclable and non-compostable packaging in the UK. Garnering over 75,000 signatures, it was selected for debate on 23rd January – if you missed it, you can catch up here or read the response.

Vegware welcomes debate and we were delighted to see the issue of recycling taking such a major platform. We would however like to see more leadership from government to create a roadmap to maximum recycling. We have no doubt manufacturers would respond to this with the innovation and flair that exists in the industry.

Our focus is foodservice where compostable packaging is the right solution. Other types of packaging need to be treated differently and we must recognise this as we devise the best way forward for each waste category.

The debate raised many valid and relevant points around the environmental contribution of effective packaging, for example in preventing food waste in the supply chain. There were also some familiar objections to compostable packaging raised which we would like to comment on.

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Vegware eco compostable packaging university of cambridge

New film! University of Cambridge go compostable with Vegware

Two years ago, the University of Cambridge decided to make their catering more sustainable. Now, every month, they save 1.5 tonnes of carbon and recycle all of their food waste and packaging.

How? By switching to Vegware’s compostable packaging, creating clear bin signage, training catering staff and engaging students.

Find out more in our latest film!

Let us know what you think @vegware.

vegware compostable coffee cup recycling manchester coffee festival

We’re Manchester Coffee Fest’s official sustainability partner!

We love a good coffee festival. Alongside the amazing smells and sights of coffee being made and the delicious samples on offer, it’s great to see new trends and innovation on the coffee scene. That’s why we’re delighted to announce we’re Manchester Coffee Festival’s first ever official sustainability partner!

Sustainability is a new focus for the festival. Spurred on by reports earlier in the year of coffee cup recycling issues, festival organisers Cup North decided it was time to take action. As well as inviting Vegware to be their official sustainability partner, the festival has also created the Vegware Sustainability Hub – an area dedicated to workshops and talks on waste and recycling issues in the coffee industry.

Taking place on the 5th-6th November, the festival will also bring together independent coffee shops, roasteries, importers and baristas from across the north of England for a weekend of talks, tastings and even a coffee-themed cinema.

Don’t miss Vegware’s workshop on coffee cup recycling, explaining the issues the UK currently faces and the compostable solution. Hosted by our Recycling Advisor Kate Chambers, you can catch us at 12pm on Saturday 5th and 2:30pm on Sunday 6th November.

pita pit vegware compostable packaging

Pita Pit choose Vegware eco packaging to break into UK market

With 600+ stores worldwide, Pita Pit‘s health-conscious fast casual dining has fans across the globe. Serving up fresh, Mediterranean inspired pitas with sustainably sourced ingredients, Pita Pit wanted food packaging that echoed their eco-friendly ethos.

Since expanding into the UK in 2013, Pita Pit have been using a fully customised range of completely compostable Vegware packaging in all of their stores. With 5 stores already open, a further 20 are set for the coming year. Pita Pit explain, “We’re a new brand in the UK and Vegware’s custom print service has been a fantastic marketing tool for us to help establish brand recognition!”

Thanks to their three bin system – a first for a UK high-street chain – Pita Pit ensure that recycling rates are high in their stores. A policy has been introduced in-store where staff strike up a conversation with customers about the compostable packaging . This helps to build a relationship with the customer, communicate the company’s environmentally friendly ethos and keep recycling contamination low.

Download the full case study here.

Coffee cup recycling – it’s time for a change

Have you seen the news? Coffee cup recycling is making the headlines again. Last night on BBC1, Hugh’s War on Waste revealed that almost all of the 7 million coffee cups we use every day in the UK go to landfill or incineration, despite many of them claiming to be recyclable.

“The truth is,” says Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, ”they are barely recyclable at all – in the everyday, commonly understood sense of the word. They cannot be recycled through any of the normal public waste collection services – who are consistently diverting them to be incinerated or sent to landfill.”

We believe it’s time for a change.

With 10,000 cups disposed of every two minutes, consumers are demanding action. Here’s our compostable solution:

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river cottage vegware compostable recycling festival

New film! River Cottage Fair goes compostable with Vegware

River Cottage’s Spring Food Fair achieved an impressive 72% recycling rate by serving all food on Vegware compostable packaging; their best ever result. Our new film shows you how we did it.

Aiming to beat the UK event average of 15%, River Cottage trialled Vegware’s compostable packaging and recycling support. After the three-day event, 680kg of used takeaway packaging was composted with food waste at Viridor’s nearby composting facility. In less than 12 weeks this soil improver will be available to River Cottage’s gardens and local farmers.

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River Cottage IG

We’re taking over River Cottage’s Instagram!

Our pals at River Cottage are kindly handing over the reins of their gorgeous Instagram account to the Vegware team this week (18th – 24th July).

In May we helped the River Cottage Spring Food Fair go completely compostable and achieve their best ever recycling rates of 72% – far beyond the UK events average of 15%. We’re launching a new film this week to show exactly how we did it, and will be taking over the River Cottage Instagram feed in the run up to it with lots of sneak peeks, how-tos and Vegware facts. There might even be a picture of us with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, but we couldn’t possibly confirm nor deny such rumours…

Keep an eye out for our film launch and follow @rivercottagehq to see what mischief we get up to. If you don’t already follow us on Instagram you can find us @vegware.