We were interviewed for Broughton’s Coffee House, the news magazine for the retail coffee and tea trade. Ian Broughton wrote an excellent overview of the state of the eco-friendly takeaway cups market. The article is on pages 11 and 12, entitled ‘Biological Battles’ – find it here.
Blendec’s CEO and YouTube phenomenon Tom Dickson saw Vegware at the NRA show in Chicago, loved the products, and of course asked the question ‘Will it blend?’ See the results of an impromptu blend on YouTube.
Vegware U.S. received a tremendous reception at this May’s National Restaurant Association show in Chicago.
QSRweb picked up on the interest, and filmed this clip of Bob Bond, president of Vegware U.S. introducing our range of eco friendly and compostable range of foodservice disposables.
Our natural starch cutlery is the star of the show on this post.
“Bobbi’s Style Buzz” Segment Spotlights Vegware Spoons
Vegware US is happy to announce that one of their biodegradable products, an eco-friendly spoon was featured on NBC Network’s The Today Show on Tuesday, December 9th,2008.
The company’s corn starch spoon was included in an on-air segment hosted by the show’s long time style editor Bobbi Thomas, in a demonstration that included her dipping Vegware spoons into melted chocolate and then rolled in tasty toppings as part of a holiday presentation. Bobbi Thomas, who has been known to frequently spotlight earth-friendly consumer products, chose Vegware spoons for the segment because the item is fully compostable, petroleum free and eco-substainable.
The entire Today Show segment can be seen online by clicking HERE.
VegwareUS to help diners “Bring It Home Green”
Danielson, CT Novemeber 19, 2008 – VegwareUS, a newly formed Danielson, Connecticut based company, has signed an exclusive deal to market Vegware© brand eco-friendly restaurant supply products throughout the North American continent and recently announced the initial distribution of eco-friendly products to North America. Vegware’s line of plates and bowls, knives and forks, cups and to-go boxes are all created from natural products and are all fully biodegradable and/or compostable.
Originally sold in Europe by Scotland based Vegware, these high quality, environmentally sustainable products reflect the growing corporate shift towards both sounder manufacturing options as well as smarter end-of-life procedures. At a time when America’s dependence on foreign energy has become a definite liability, VegwareUS owner Robert Bond proudly points out that not a single item in the company’s inventory contains any petroleum based substance.
“We’re hoping to set the example,” explains Bond, “Vegware’s fiber based products present saner ecological and economic options that could have a significant impact in reducing the amount of waste generated from disposable tableware and cutlery products.”
North American consumers are ordering take-out meals in record numbers. U.S. government statistics show American families spend $3,360 a year to avoid cooking at home. Currently, an estimated 39 billion items of disposable cutlery make their way to American landfills yearly (source: The Food Packaging Institute, Washington, D.C.). Unlike traditional cutlery, Vegware products are designed to breakdown naturally, eliminating unnecessary waste.
In addition to helping to manage waste, the manufacturing process for creating Vegware products also represents a breakthrough in both simplicity and eco-efficiency. Renewable raw materials, such as corn, potato and cassava provide the fiber and starch which comprise the building blocks of these items. Bagasse, one of the most popular Vegware offerings, is a byproduct of sugar cane which is made from the dry fibrous residue left after the stalks have been crushed to extract juice. Bagasse plates and bowls are created by a high-heat, high-pressure process that requires the use of considerably less energy than that used when pulping wood for similar paper products. These pieces are remarkably durable and especially well suited for holding hot, wet or oily foods. An added benefit to Vegware’s ease in manufacturing will be the flexibility it offers in both servicing specific client needs and in keeping up with changing market trends.
VegwareUS is a Connecticut-based company offering an environmentally sustainable range of cutlery and tableware products. The company exists to provide economic, eco-friendly, and high quality options to the food service industry while simultaneously providing the highest possible levels of customer service. VegwareUS’s longer term goal is to play a part in enabling a paradigm shift in how waste is managed. To learn more, please visit www.vegware.us.
The first part of 2008 saw significant increases in the prices of food and oil, increased use of bioplastics, and large scale introduction of biofuels. It is no understatement to say that the effects have been felt globally. Any long-term global strategy to ensure sufficient, affordable, sustainably-produced food and energy has to encompass a large number of interacting issues including our use of oil, use of land and ocean, methods of agriculture, renewable energy, and waste management.
Unfortunately, the media tends to pick up on single issues, treat them in isolation, and then add sufficient spin to create a story. At Vegware, we welcome an open and rational debate, and have assembled a few thoughts on these matters.
Vegware is committed to providing environmentally-friendly options for food service and packaging. We are constantly monitoring the available materials and associated impacts, and will update our offerings according to what we believe gives the best option. We are not tied to one material, though currently, we consider that annually-renewable and recycled materials which are suitable for commercial scale composting offer by far the best solution.
In the UK, as in much of the world, landfill is used as a primary option for waste disposal. Currently, a large proportion of the waste which goes to landfill is organic matter and suitable for commercial composting. One of the main barriers to this is the expense of sorting waste streams. Once materials such as those provided by Vegware become the norm, all food waste and packaging will be processed together, making large-scale composting economic.
The potential value of compostable and renewable materials does not exist in isolation from wider trends in waste management, and there is inevitably a lag between the production of particular materials and the capacity to recycle them on a large scale. It would clearly be inappropriate to attribute any problems with the management of recyclable and compostable materials to the materials themselves, rather than the treatment processes that are available. We have assembled thoughts on a number of the related issues.
Methane in landfill
One of the criticisms of the use of bioplastics, is that if they wind up in landfill and break down anaerobically, methane (a significant contributors to the greenhouse effect and therefore global warming) is produced. Firstly, this is a somewhat spurious argument, as nothing breaks down in landfill, indeed this is the point of landfill. Rather than being an open dump, a landfill site is lined with plastic or clay, and waste is compacted and covered with topsoil in order to provide an oxygen-starved and dry environment. This prevents harmful leachate seeping into groundwater.
In fact the rate of degradation in landfill was found to be even slower than expected by researchers from the University of Arizona, who excavated a site and found 50-year-old newspapers in readable condition, along with 25 year-old hot dogs, corn cobs and grapes which were also in recognizable condition.
The UK lags way behind many European countries in terms of waste management, and few would suggest that landfill can provide a long term solution. Even if methane was an issue, an interim period in which some bioplastics wind up in landfill is inevitable. This is nothing new – it is commonplace for the popularity and availability of a material to force the creation of infrastructure around it.
We are now in the position of having a number of new materials which are suitable for commercial-scale composting, and it is up to the waste management industry and the Government to evolve to meet these new challenges. It is necessary that the industry improves labelling to help to reduce consumer confusion – this issue is being dealt with in an ongoing basis.
Oil-based plastics have properties which make them ideal for numerous applications. Sensible recycling of these materials is essential and should be part of a wider strategy on tackling waste. However, we advocate compostable bioplastics for food applications, as the food and packaging can be processed together.
Food prices have increased significantly over the past 12 months, and this is due to a multitude of factors. Without doubt, biofuel production has contributed, though the economics of biofuel production have been seriously distorted by the subsidies which are in place. By contrast, bioplastics have not been subject to this. Another major factor which is commonly overlooked is the global surge in demand for meat over the past decade – producing meat for consumption is a very inefficient use of primary grain stocks and has lead to increased demand. Friends of the Earth state that meat and dairy consumption has reached a record high, quadrupling in the past 50 years, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions are from the global livestock industry – which is more than the entire transport sector.
The early part of 2008 saw a crunch in food prices. In very recent memory, Europe was sitting on food mountains, and as many other parts of the world, large scale dumping of food and incentives to leave agricultural land fallow were in place. The nature of food production is that there is a lag where supply catches up with demand. We may have reached the end of an era of cheap food, though with good management, hopefully the situation can be taken back on track. No doubt this will be difficult for net importers of staples, such as Egypt, though there are few commodities which have been subject to such convoluted trade barriers and tariffs.
It is also worth noting that the cost of food production depends on oil, which is used to power farm machinery, transport crops, and produce fertilizer.
Food waste and packaging
A huge quantity of food is wasted in the first world. Food packaging methods have moved on significantly in the past two decades. The result is that food takes much longer to perish, and therefore the amount of waste due to spoiling in transit has been significantly reduced. However, a recent study by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), suggested that this was as much as one third of food purchased by consumers in the UK, a figure which has been steadily increasing over the past decade.
Despite initially appearing to offer a long-term solution, the use and subsidy of biofuels has attracted mounting criticism. In addition to the impact on food pricing due to subsidised crops, biofuel production requires significant quantities of water which has other associated impacts.
Whilst it is extremely concerning that inflated food prices are undoing the progress in poverty reduction over the last decade, it is worth keeping the development of bioplastics in context. They provide an alternative to the use of oil, which as a commodity can be linked to environmental catastrophe, global unrest and human misery on an epic scale.
The soaring prices of oil and food crops have sparked debate on the impacts of biofuel production, and bioplastics have attracted some negative press by association.
At Vegware, we consider that bioplastics have a very valuable role to play as part of an environmentally sustainable approach to packaging. Click here to read our statement on the issues of biofuels, bioplastics, food prices and waste management.
Vegware products have been selected for exhibition at CONTAINS, and exhibition running for 19-28 October hosted in shipping containers at Newcastle’s Monument (Grainger Street, Newcastle).
CONTAINS explores the stories behind the products we use every day – how they’re made, the materials used, the energy consumed, the miles travelled – in an innovative, inspiring and accessible exhibition that shows how design can make a difference.
More information here.