Category Archives: food waste and recycling

BBIA bio-based biodegradable industries association compostable

Composting infrastructure webinar with Vegware, BBIA, REA ORG

Confused about composting? Keen to understand recycling infrastructure for compostable packaging?

Join a free webinar this Monday 24th September at 3pm UK time, to hear presentations from industry experts including technical experts from the trade association representing the composting facilities. Our Communications Director Lucy will be speaking about UK access to commercial composting. The webinar is hosted by the Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA).

If you listen live, you can put your own questions to the panel. To listen back after the event, go to http://bbia.org.uk/webinars/ 

Organics recycling and infrastructure webinar

Speakers:
  • David Newman, Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association
  • Andy Sweetman, Futamura
  • Emily Nichols, REA’s Organics Recycling Group
  • Lucy Frankel, Vegware
  • Charlie Trousdell, REA’s Organics Recycling Group
The webinar will cover subjects such as:
  • recycling options for compostables in the UK
  • industry roadmap for compostable materials
  • the challenges with plastics recycling
  • contamination in recycling systems – plastics, bioplastics, and compost quality
  • the value of compost

Register for free here. You can also watch it later. We look forward to hearing your questions!

Vegware biodegradable compostable PLA CPLA bioplastic compost plastic

Breaking news! UK Parliament to dramatically reduce plastic use through Vegware compostable products

The UK Parliament will be replacing their single-use plastic food and drink packaging with plant-based Vegware. These products include our certified compostable cutlery, coffee cups and lids, soup containers, takeaway food containers, salad boxes, and drinking straws.

As part of this sustainable switch, Parliament will be introducing new waste bins to capture the used compostable disposables, which will then be sent to an in-vessel composting facility. The used Vegware will first be shredded, and the composting process will start by naturally occurring micro-organisms already in the waste. The process results in high-quality compost being produced that is fit for any garden.

Eilidh Brunton, Vegware’s Group Recycling Consultant, said:

“The UK Parliament choosing and composting Vegware is the highest accolade for compostable disposables as a practical recycling solution in foodservice. It’s an exemplar of best practice, breathing life into circular economy principals, composting biowaste here in the UK to enrich British soils. We are delighted to be a part of this collaboration.”

Compostable products are just one of many measures announced this year by Parliament, with the aim of eliminating single-use avoidable plastics from both Houses by 2019. It has already made reusable coffee cups readily available and, from October, will stop selling bottled water.

To learn more about this news, read the full press release here or get in touch at comms@vegware.co.uk.

Vegware open windrow garden waste composting compostable cups coffee drinks

Newsflash! First step towards UK garden waste composters accepting Vegware’s cups & lids

Garden waste composting facilities across the UK are now officially allowed to process Vegware’s certified compostable hot and cold cups and lids, if milk and cream are the only animal by-products present. This DOESN’T mean that Vegware cups can go in garden waste bins starting today – it means the facilities are now officially allowed to consider processing it, which is the first step.

It’s not possible without independent certification, but all Vegware’s cups and lids have valid compostability certificates.

Now we can start working through our environmental due diligence programme with the composting facilities and waste collectors. We will announce good news region by region, wherever businesses and householders can start putting Vegware cups and lids in their garden waste bins.

This was a Vegware initiative together with REA’s Organics Recycling Group, approved by the Animal and Plant Health Agency, Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

With well over 100 open windrow composting facilities around the UK, this news dramatically increases the number of facilities allowed to process compostable drinks waste. It adds to the existing 53 in-vessel composting (IVC) facilities licensed to process food waste, over a third of which already accept Vegware’s compostable packaging.

This is a game changer for Vegware’s compostables, expanding composting opportunities for our numerous clients who only serve drinks. We’re growing the UK’s circular economy – disposables made from plants, composted here in the UK, creating compost to feed British fields.

Composting methods & used Vegware packaging
TYPE OF FACILITY FOOD WASTE RECYCLING FACILITIES GARDEN WASTE COMPOSTING FACILITIES
PROCESS In-vessel composting (IVC) and some anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities with a composting phase

 

Open windrow composting (OAW)

 

SUITABLE PRODUCTS BY VEGWARE · Vegware’s full range of plant-based compostable foodservice disposables · All Vegware hot cups – single wall, double wall

· All CPLA hot cup lids

· Clear PLA cold cups and lids

· PLA-lined paper cold cups

· Wooden stirrers (pure untreated wood, so no certification required)

Vegware’s compostability certificates for these products are available on request

CLIENT USAGE Any food or drink, including animal by-products such as eggs, meat or bones Strictly DRINKS ONLY, with MILK or CREAM as the ONLY animal by-products
COLLECTED IN Vegware’s range of certified home compostable biobags
OTHER ALLOWABLE WASTES · Used coffee grounds and loose-leaf tea

· Tea bags and coffee capsules with a valid compostability certificate

· Garden waste can be processed at all composting facilities

Continue reading Newsflash! First step towards UK garden waste composters accepting Vegware’s cups & lids

Pioneering a compostable future – join us on the journey

Yes, compostable packaging is being composted, but more can be done to ensure commercial composting is UK-wide. Vegware is helping to drive this change.

  • It’s not just about cups – compostables can Close the Loop for all foodservice waste
  • Vegware is working actively to increase UK access to commercial composting
  • Our Close the Loop composting collections are already in Scotland, and expanding to other UK regions soon

2018 has seen a huge shift in public attitudes towards plastic. At Vegware, there has been a surge in requests for our plastic-free catering disposables made from plant-based materials. Our products are also compostable, meaning Vegware’s entire range can biodegrade in under 12 weeks in commercial composting facilities.

Vegware hears growing demands for composting and recycling within the UK and worldwide. We understand people’s concerns at the lack of access to a composting infrastructure and not having UK-wide legislation supporting separate collections of food waste and green waste. As the global specialist in plant-based compostable foodservice packaging, we take this issue seriously.

There are industrial composting facilities all around the UK which accept used Vegware, as well as some suitable anaerobic digestion facilities. The challenge is that there are not always collection routes available to businesses. We have been working actively to change this, partnering with a variety of waste collectors who take used Vegware and food waste to industrial composting, resulting in zero waste regions around the UK.

Determined to create end-of-life solutions for our products, Vegware has also become a waste broker to offer our own collections. In summer 2017, we launched Close the Loop in Scotland. As of March 2018, Vegware has taken 25 tonnes of used Vegware and food waste to commercial composting, creating high-quality compost that feeds Scottish fields.

Continue reading Pioneering a compostable future – join us on the journey

‘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