Category Archives: food waste and recycling

Defra Want YOUR Views – Should Compostables Become Part of Mainstream UK Waste Collections?

Now here is a huge opportunity. Do you believe compostables have a role to play?

The UK Government is about to completely overhaul our waste systems, and are seeking YOUR views.

This is your chance to tell Defra, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, if you want to see compostables become part of mainstream UK waste collections, and see the Government encouraging the use of renewable, plant-based materials.

We don’t think it’s okay to carry on relying on export to deal with the UK’s contaminated low-grade packaging waste. We have composting facilities here in the UK, but just need to develop our collection infrastructure.

Continue reading Defra Want YOUR Views – Should Compostables Become Part of Mainstream UK Waste Collections?

The EU Single Use Plastics Directive

What is it?

New far-reaching EU guidance aimed at reducing plastic marine pollution. It is based on the 10 single-use plastic items and fishing gear which account for 70% of marine litter in Europe.

“The European Strategy for Plastics is a step towards establishing a circular economy in which the design and production of plastics and plastic products fully respect re-use, repair and recycling needs and in which more sustainable materials are developed and promoted.”

 

What is going to be banned?

  • OXO-DEGRADABLE PLASTICS. Common in cold cups, cutlery, straws, and carrier bags, and often labelled ‘degradable’ or mis-sold as ‘biodegradable’. These are conventional plastics with an additive to make it fragment into small flakes, but are not suitable for recycling or composting.
  • EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE food and drink containers – also known as Styrofoam. Very common material in cups, clamshells, plates and bowls.
  • All PLASTIC CUTLERY, PLATES, STIRRERS and STRAWS. That includes plant-based and compostable plastics, as the Directive is based on how materials behave in the marine environment. Compostable packaging breaks down in commercial composting conditions which provide a perfect balance of microbes, moisture and warmth; these are different conditions to the sea.

When does it come into force?

2021 at the earliest, with different deadlines to achieve various goals. Agreed upon in 2019, EU member states have two years to put the legislation into their own national laws. The UK has signalled it may mirror the EU’s actions, regardless of Brexit.

Continue reading The EU Single Use Plastics Directive

Gone with the Windrow: an independent cinema inspires a cup composting solution

Wells Film Centre is a three-screen independent cinema in Somerset, the South West of England. Serving refreshments is an enjoyable part of the customer experience, as well as a vital income stream for the cinema. Wells Film Centre has been serving hot and cold drinks using Vegware’s compostable cups and lids since May 2018 – read the full story here.

Cinema owner Sally Cooper was determined to compost the drinks waste. She was disappointed to hear from Vegware’s Environmental team that, as yet, there were no regular collections covering her area.

Vegware’s Green Britain double wall cups

Composting Vegware cups with garden waste

Until now, all UK catering waste had to go to one of two processes: in-vessel composting (IVC) or anaerobic digestion (AD). There are around 50 in-vessel composting (IVC) facilities, over a third of which accept used Vegware.

Happily, for Wells Film Centre and many businesses only serving drinks, not food, Vegware was working behind the scenes on a project which would open dialogue with 150+ extra composting sites, including one in Sally’s area. In July 2018, we gained official approval for the UK’s open windrow facilities to consider processing certified compostable hot and cold cups and cup lids.

Continue reading Gone with the Windrow: an independent cinema inspires a cup composting solution

UK regions with trade composting collections for Vegware clients

Here’s the latest list of UK regions with a regular trade waste collection for used Vegware, going to a Vegware-approved facility.

Our waste activism

  • In 2012, when our Environmental team started forging links with the waste sector, compostable packaging was only accepted in commercial waste collections in 2% of UK postcode districts.
  • We’re just an SME, but we now employ three Recycling Advisors to work proactively with clients and the waste sector, increasing the regions where our clients can have used Vegware collected. Read some of our case studies.
  • Our UK coverage is growing all the time. Here’s the percentage of the 3,111 UK postcode districts with a Vegware-approved trade waste collection:
    • 2% back in 2012 when we started our Environmental team
    • Up to 25% on 1st March 2019
    • Up to 27% on 19th March 2019
    • Now at 38% – updated on 9th May 2019

Continue reading UK regions with trade composting collections for Vegware clients

Guardian Vegware growth business compostable

Today’s Guardian news: 53% growth in one year

Our CEO is interviewed in today’s Guardian. If you’re finding us for the first time, well hello. Here’s a bit more background info.

  • We make plant-based foodservice disposables from lower carbon, renewable or recycled materials.
  • Even with a major shift to reusables, some disposables will be needed. Our entire range is commercially compostable, and we have a dedicated Environmental team who help clients set up composting schemes. Here’s our composting FAQ.

Our business story

  • We are an Edinburgh-based exporting SME whose sales have grown 53% in one year, to £30.7M in 2018/19 from £20M last year (and from £6.9M turnover in 2013/14). We have experienced exceptional growth during 2018 due to 2018’s huge public demand for alternatives to conventional plastics.
  • Export has grown a third for us this last year, now accounting for a third of our sales. We sell to 70 countries worldwide.
  • This last year, our team has grown from 51 to 75 (in staff numbers, not in age…)!
  • Our board has an unusual gender balance – our CEO is the only male, with five female Directors.

Vegware board of Directors female genderWe’re proud to be actively driving change in foodservice recycling – find out more about our waste activism.

 

Local cafés champion new service to compost disposables

Three Yorkshire cafés lead a campaign to get local businesses to use a new waste collection service for used compostable Vegware disposables. Opposite Cafe, Laynes Espresso and North Star Coffee Shop are keen to start composting their used Vegware. In 6-8 weeks, the waste is turned into compost for use on Yorkshire fields.

The new service offers a composting solution for used Vegware and food waste from cafés, offices, schools and universities in Leeds, York and Harrogate and the surrounding region. Used Vegware is collected by Forge Recycling and taken to The Maltings waste facility, a modified anaerobic digestion plant with a composting phase, near Leeds. Forge Recycling are the only Yorkshire-based ‘total’ waste recycling company who can offer this service. Continue reading Local cafés champion new service to compost disposables

Trinidad and Tobago government ban Styrofoam packaging

Vegware welcomes news that the government of Trinidad and Tobago have approved a ban on polysterene foam products, such as Styrofoam, which will be implemented in 2019.

Banning Styrofoam imports

Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis says the importation of ‘Styrofoam’ products into the country will be banned. Local polystyrene manufacturers have been given time to make their products environmentally friendly.

Building on change

This builds on action taken in Tobago, where the Tobago House Assembly (THA) passed a motion to phase out polystyrene foam products.

The THA is currently working with the Castara Tourism Association to make the idyllic holiday destination Castara the first Styrofoam-free village in the country.

The Caribbean island of Dominica also implements a ban on Styrofoam cups and containers in 2019, as well as on plastic plates, cups, cutlery and straws.

Packaging tax

THA official Linford Beckles suggested there was also a need to address the tax on imported packaging. He said while there are currently, “No taxes on Styrofoam products coming into Trinidad and Tobago,” there are taxes on, “Environmentally friendly alternatives.”

Beckles said the THA is looking at two alternatives to replace the Styrofoam, one is bagasse-based and the other is corn-based.

Vegetarian Pelau box from Aunty Cathy’s Kitchen, Freeport who already use Vegware packaging

How Vegware can help

Our tableware and takeaway boxes are made from bagasse, reclaimed sugarcane, and make an excellent eco alternative to  polysterene foam . Vegware already supply several catering outlets in Trinidad and Tobago. We look forward to working with more restaurants, cafes and on-site catering in the switch to eco-friendly polysterene foam alternatives.

Hobart becomes first Australian city to ban single-use plastic

Hobart City Council has voted to ban single-use plastic by 2020.  Businesses within the Hobart municipality will need to start phasing out single-use plastics in favour of re-usable or compostable packaging.

Vegware is delighted to hear of this first step in Australia, and our operational base in Sydney is poised to support clients transition to compostable packaging.

The city will have a period of public and legislative consultation before enacting the by-law either by late 2019 or early 2020 at the latest. Single-use plastic items such as plastic containers, straws, coffee cups, plastic lids and condiment sachets are on the list to be banned.

Small but significant step

Environment Tasmania Director Philip Cocker said the proposed ban was a small but significant step in environmental sustainability for the city.

“I am sure all Hobart businesses will be able to implement the by-law with positive effects on their businesses,” he said in a statement.

This single-use plastic ban is one way to combat low plastic recycling rates. A new study by the University of Technology Sydney, NSW,  found that Australia is recycling less than one third of its plastic packaging waste. Meaning that reducing single-use plastic is vital.

Vegware packaging at Sush restaurant, Hobart
Businesses already on-board

Some Hobart businesses have already chosen to go plastic-free. Vegware customer Sush, a Hobart sushi restaurant, already has its own ban on single-use plastic containers. As Trish Haeusler, from Plastic Free Launceston, says, “A lot of small businesses are already onto this [re-usable or compostable packaging] because they know customers are demanding it.”

Expanding the ban

Councillor Bill Harvey – who led the charge against single-use plastic – says that this new by-law shows, “That we’re serious about leading by example and this is one of those decisions that will have impacts for councils across Australia.”

Hobart City Council has written to Environment Minister Elise Archer to request the State Government implement a state-wide plastic ban.

Watch this space!

Bristol, Cheltenham & Worcester can compost!

Hello Bristol, Cheltenham and Worcester!

Close the Loop

Our new Close the Loop service collects clients’ used Vegware in Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Worcester, and the surrounding region – full list below. Our trade waste collection takes it for commercial composting to create high-grade compost in a matter of weeks. Read more here.

Composting your Vegware products

All our products are commercially compostable with food waste. Our Environmental team’s award-winning support includes consultancy, staff training, bespoke bin signage and communications for an easy transition to zero waste.

We now collect used Vegware in these areas:

  • BRISTOL: city centre, Redcliffe, Kingsdown, St Pauls, St Phillips, St Agnes, Bedminster, Southville, Bower Ashton, Totterdown, Windmill Hill, Brislington, Knowle, Knowle West, St Annes, Totterdown, Easton, St George, Whitehall, Redland, Montpelier, Westbury Park, Bishopston, Horfield, Filton, Clifton, Hotwells, Coombe Dingle, Sneyd Park, Stoke Bishop, Westbury on Trym, Henleaze, Brentry, Henbury, Southmead, Avonmouth, Shirehampton, Bedminster Down, Bishopsworth, Hartcliffe, Withywood, Hengrove, Stockwood, Whitchurch, Withywood, Hanham, Kingswood, Downend, Fishponds, Frenchay
  • NORTH SOMERSET: Portishead, Clevedon, Long Ashton, Backwell, Nailsea
  • SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE: Bitton, Cadbury Heath, Warmley, Wick, Almondsbury, Bradley Stoke, Filton, Little Stoke, Patchway, Stoke Gifford, Alveston, Rudgeway, Thornbury, Frampton Cotterell, Winterbourne, Chipping Sodbury, Yate
  • GLOUCESTER, Berkeley, Cinderford, Newnham, Westbury-on-Severn, Blakeney, Lydney, Coleford, Lydbrook, Drybrook, Longhope, Mitcheldean, Ruardean, Dymock, Newent, Chipping Campden, Badminton
  • COTSWOLDS: Cirencester, Fairford, Lechlade and Tetbury
  • STROUD, Stonehouse, Dursley, Wotton-under-Edge, Nailsworth, Painswick
  • TEWKESBURY, Bredon, Cheltenham, Moreton-in-Marsh
  • WORCESTER, Malvern, Pershore, Evesham, Broadway, Droitwich

If you’d like to hear more about our composting collection, or just talk about plant-based packaging, get in touch!

Californian cities taking huge strides to reduce waste!

Berkeley and San Diego, California have set out new regulations to reduce waste from food and beverage single-use disposables. From 2020, all foodservice packaging must be compostable or reusable to comply with their Disposable Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance.

Many changes going on in Berkeley in the upcoming year…

From January 1st, 2020, restaurants, cafes and catering outlets must comply with the new disposables foodware standards. This means:

  • All foodservice packaging must be compostable (BPI certified and accepted by the local composter)
  • Food vendors must provide at least one set of three easily accessible receptacles composting, recycling, and landfill
  • See here for more details: scroll to item 22

Vegware holds the deepest set of compostability certification in the sector, including certified compostable by BPI, thereby meeting the new disposable foodware standards. Our Environmental team provide support and advice for foodservice operators seeking composting solutions to meet compliance. Read more about our extensive compostability certifications here.

San Diego is banning foam polystyrene foodservice containers within the city limits in steps to achieve zero waste!

City departments will no longer purchase or acquire foam polystyrene (styrofoam) foodservice containers, including bowls, plates, trays, cups, lids and other single-use items. Read more here.

This reduction of polystyrene is an excellent step, yet, takeaway packaging remains an integral part of consumers’ lifestyles. Vegware’s commercially compostable packaging is well suited for caterers looking for plastic-free alternatives to traditional polystyrene.

These changes build on a wave of similar city ordinances. Vegware welcomes these ambitious plans and we are keen to work with foodservice outlets to help them implement these changes.