Category Archives: food waste and recycling

‘Latte levy’ report is well intentioned, but industry proposals and initiatives will be more effective at tackling recycling.

  • Vegware welcomes the much-needed focus on recycling, but instead of charging consumers, Vegware supports reforms to have industry pay for recycling
  • State-of-the art cup recycling can be complemented through the use of compostable foodservice packaging; compostables can Close the Loop for all foodservice waste
  • Packaging company Vegware to expand Close the Loop composting collections

Vegware wholeheartedly supports any initiative that boosts recycling. The public and businesses are all eager for a solution. The UK Environmental Audit Committee has recommended a 25p ‘latte levy’ on any disposable coffee cup. Whilst the report raises many valid points about the challenges we face, we do not see a ‘latte levy’ as the most effective way forward. Vegware support’s the Foodservice Packaging Association’s response, ‘Why charge consumers 25 pence a cup when industry is willing to provide funding for recycling’. In addition, Vegware would like to highlight the opportunity that compostable packaging brings to recycling of all foodservice waste, not only cups.

In 2017 there were great strides in recycling used coffee cups by major chains and independents alike. Food contamination is cited in the report as a major issue. To complement cup and other dry recycling, industrial composting is a form of recycling with a major role to play here. If all disposables are compostable, all foodservice waste – the cup, lid, spoon and sandwich wedge, leftover crusts and mayo – can be composted together, and food contamination is no longer an issue.

Vegware takes its producer responsibility seriously, and offers expert environmental support to help foodservice clients recycle used Vegware and food waste. Launched initially in Scotland in 2017, Vegware’s Close the Loop service collects used compostables and food waste from Vegware clients, taking it for commercial composting. Now that we have a successful model to roll out, Vegware will be announcing good news in other areas of the UK in 2018.

To see a true shift in foodservice recycling and litter reduction, Vegware believes a comprehensive raft of improvements are needed to recycling systems and major public awareness campaigns. We welcome ambitious plans and are keen to drive innovation and collaboration in the packaging and recycling sectors.

Close the Loop in Footprint’s waste2zero awards!

We were happy to hear this week that we were a runner up for Best Closed Loop Project Award at the Footprint waste2zero Awards. We were nominated for our Close the Loop collection service, a waste collection service offering Vegware packaging and food waste collection to customers across Scotland’s Central Belt.

Earlier in October we won Supplier of the Year at the Food Made Good Awards for our Close the Loop solution. Close the Loop also received a Parliamentary Motion in the Scottish Parliament in the same month.

plastic; plastic-free; plant-based; renewable; vegware; packaging; eco; environmental

Go plastic free with Vegware

Why do we make packaging from plants not plastic?

Renewable vs finite

First off, conventional plastic is made from oil, a finite resource. With oil running out, it seems sensible to use alternative materials made from renewable resources. Bioplastics are a smart modern solution, which can replace oil-based plastics and function perfectly.

Carbon

Producing oil-based plastics is more carbon-intensive than plant-based alternatives. We have worked with an independent carbon consultant to understand the embodied carbon in different packaging materials. For example:

  • Bagasse is the recycled sugarcane fibre we use to make clamshells. Bagasse has 99% less embodied carbon than polystyrene.
  • Our cups are lined with plant-based PLA, a material with 72% less embodied carbon than PE, the oil-based plastic which lines standard cups.

Our Eco Audits quantify the difference in embodied CO2 per kilo for materials used to create Vegware products compared with their conventional packaging equivalents.

So far in 2017, Vegware’s clients together have saved over 4,700 tonnes of carbon by switching to plants, not plastic. That’s like cancelling the carbon from 2,966 flights from London to New York.

Continue reading Go plastic free with Vegware

On-site composting at Dundee and Angus College

For Dundee and Angus College in Scotland, on-site composting provided an ideal solution for them to take control of their food waste, reducing packaging in canteens, and move away from plastics in food service. 

The first thing the College needed was a packaging supplier that could offer a sustainable, compostable solution to aid their on-site composting ambitions.

Why Vegware?

Vegware’s packaging is made from plants, not plastic, and designed to be composted with food waste.  

On choosing Vegware as a sustainable packing supplier, Jackie Beresford at Dundee and Angus College commented:

The quality of the product along with the very good customer service is the reason why we use Vegware and continue to do so.”

Because Vegware’s products are compostable, they can be combined with food waste and processed in Dundee and Angus College’s own composter.

With help from food waste experts, Tidy Planet, the college operates an on-site composter called The Rocket Composter. The Rocket speeds up composting by providing it with a perfect environment in which to thrive; moisture, heat and air is all controlled. 

Dundee and Angus College

How it works

Vegware worked with Dundee and Angus College to create bespoke bin signage in the canteens to reduce contamination. All compostable packaging and food waste goes into one bin – there’s no need to clean, sort or separate any of it.

Food waste and Vegware is gathered, shredded and de-watered together in a macerator. From here on it is combined with other green waste and woodchips inside The Rocket composter. In as little as 14 days the gardeners at Dundee and Angus College have access to a high-quality mulch they can use on the College garden.

Dundee and Angus College

Savings in carbon and cost

The process saves money and carbon, and is easy to manage. It’s a great circular approach that takes place on the same site from start to finish. Coffee cups, coffee grinds and food waste can realistically be handled by the gardeners as a mulch on the ground in 14 days’ time. The system has a 20-year life span, but equipment of this scale can often pay for itself in less than five years. 

Collecting waste and sending it to landfill, a recycling plant or a composting facility can take several trips based on how much waste a business accumulates. By composting on-site, Dundee and Angus College saves both money and carbon. Hugh Crampton from Tidy Planet explains:

“By doing something like this, instantly you’ve reduced two or three vehicles movements per week for the collection of those wastes. If you add that mileage up for a collection vehicle for 20 years and that’s a whole lot of carbon emissions you’ve just avoided.”

Dundee and Angus College

Get in touch if you’d like to discuss on-site composting systems.

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 marine plastic pollution

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.

Continue reading Vegware responds: Parliament debate on banning non-compostable packaging

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.