Frequently Asked Questions
- Where are you headquartered?
- Vegware is headquartered in Edinburgh, UK with further operational bases in the UK, US, Hong Kong and Australia.
- What countries do you sell your products in?
- We sell to 70 countries and have distribution throughout the UK, Europe, the Middle East, US, South America and the Caribbean.
- Where can I buy Vegware to use in my foodservice operations?
- UK: Contact our Customer Service team on +44 (0)330 223 0400 or email@example.com and we can connect you with one of our UK distribution partners.
Europe: Contact our European Sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)3333 055 404 to be connected to a distributor.
US: Contact our US team at email@example.com or (844) 610-0915
Hong Kong: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or +852 2127 4489
Australia: Contact email@example.com or +02 9987 0800
Rest of the world: Contact our Customer Service team on +44 (0) 330 223 0400 or firstname.lastname@example.org, sharing your location.
- How can I become a distributor?
- UK: Contact our Sales team at email@example.com or on +44 (0)3333 055 404.
Europe: Contact our European Sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)3333 055 404.
US: Contact our US team at email@example.com or (844) 610-0915
Rest of the world: Contact our Global team at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)330 223 0400, sharing your location.
- Who owns Vegware?
- Founded in 2006, Vegware was a privately held company until August 2021 when we joined the Novolex family of brands. Learn more about the Vegware team on our About page.
- Can I invest in Vegware?
- We appreciate your interest. Vegware is owned by Novolex, and we have funding in place.
- I am a student writing a paper / dissertation / article about Vegware, how can I receive more information?
- We have a wealth of information available online. To learn more about composting, please read our Composting FAQs and visit our About pages. Information on our plant-based materials and products can be found on our Catalogue pages and the Products FAQs. Additionally, our annual magazines, found at issuu.com/vegware , and our blog posts contain many articles, case studies and company updates from over the years.
- What is Vegware made from?
- Vegware is made from plants using renewable, lower carbon, recycled or reclaimed materials. We use a variety of plant-based materials – visit Our materials page for more information.
- Is Vegware food safe?
- Vegware is certified food safe. We hold the market's most comprehensive food migration certification.
- Is Vegware oven safe? Can I microwave or freeze it?
- We encourage customers to request product samples, as each kitchen is different, so samples allow you to test Vegware with your menu offerings and see how they work in your ovens, microwaves, refrigerators and freezers. Products that are Vegware-approved for a commercial kitchen appliance, such as hot cabinets, are referenced in the product's description.
- Are Vegware products vegan?
- Our products are made from plants using renewable, lower carbon, recycled or reclaimed materials. We use synthetic glues to bind our materials and have confirmation that they do not contain animal by-products.
- Isn’t using corn for bioplastics taking up land that could be used to feed people?
- If half of the world’s plastic production switched to crop-based bioplastics, the industry would still only require 3% of the world’s cultivated land. Bioplastics are typically made from materials that are not suitable for human consumption. For example, producers do not use food grade corn in the manufacture, thus it can be grown on outlying agricultural land and not interfere with food production.
- How should I store Vegware products?
- Do not store Vegware near heat – for example not in direct sunlight or near an oven or radiator. Vegware is best stored at temperatures not more than 40°C.
- Are Vegware products made in the UK?
- Vegware is a global brand, operating across a range of markets. As such, our supply chain is spread across a range of territories including the UK and Asia. We manufacture our products close to the source of our raw plant-based materials, so that when transported, Vegware products are in their finished form.
- What's the shelf life for Vegware products?
- Generally speaking, Vegware products have a shelf life of up to one year.
- Where can Vegware deliver?
- For website orders, Vegware can only ship directly to UK mainland addresses. For all other regions,
and parts of the world, please get in touch with our Customer Service team who can advise on a distributor
in your region whom you can purchase products from: email@example.com.
If you are interested in becoming a distributor, please contact our Sales team: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What are your cut off and shipping lead times?
- Please refer to our Online orders page.
- Can I make changes to my order after I've placed it?
- Unfortunately, once processed and confirmed by the Vegware Customer Service team, orders cannot be amended.
Additions to an order can be made by raising a new order, which may be subject to an additional shipping charge where applicable. Where possible, we will try to minimise shipping costs and packaging materials by consolidating orders into single cartons and or single deliveries.
- Can I return purchased products?
- Customers are entitled to return goods – other than printed or bespoke products – to receive a refund or credit on the sum paid, and we require a specific process and timeframe be followed – please refer to our Online orders page for further information.
- I think I received an incorrect item in my order, what can I do?
- Should you notice that you have received an incorrect item after receipt of the delivery parcel or pallets,
please do report them to us by the end of the day you receive the goods: email@example.com.
Vegware will not be liable for non-delivery of goods unless written notice is given within this timeframe.
- I might be missing an item from my order, what do I do?
- Should any shortages or damages appear after receipt of the delivery parcel or pallets, please do report them to us by the end of the day you receive the goods: firstname.lastname@example.org. Vegware will not be liable for non-delivery of goods unless written notice is given within the timeframes advised above.
- I'm concerned about a product I've received, what should I do?
Any quality concerns should be sent to our Customer Service team at email@example.com. Please include the below information in your email:
- Product code (including associated products such as lids, pots, etc)
- Original order number
- Batch numbers (printed on the outer case, with prefix VEGW)
- Clear explanation of the potential fault including usage
- Quantity affected
- Photo or video of the fault
- Requested action and / or outcome
We will aim to respond to the initial email within 4 working hours of receipt and, once all required information has been gathered, we shall create a plan for further investigation with an agreed upon timeline for updates and actions.
- Where can I find the size of products or cases?
- Please refer to the individual product page to find details on the product and case dimensions.
- Where can I find the compostability certification?
- Vegware holds the deepest set of compostability certification in the sector – you can learn more in the Our materials section on our About page. If you are seeking further details for specific products please contact our Customer Service team: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What's the point of disposables being compostable?
- Composting is a form of recycling which keeps resources local, unlike much plastic and paper which is exported overseas with no guarantee of it actually being recycled.
Compostable disposables are designed to be recycled in an industrial composting facility together with food waste. That means there’s no need for sorting, and the compostable cup, lid, burger box, knife and napkin can all go together without removing the ketchup and leftover chips. An extra bonus is that once food and disposables share one bin, other dry recycling bins are cleaner and easier to recycle.
Compostability isn’t best for all situations. For example, Vegware wouldn’t make compostable water bottles, as PET plastic already has a developed recycling infrastructure. But for food-contaminated disposables, compostability is a sensible solution.
- How can Vegware help clients find composting solutions?
- Our full-time Environmental team are experts in helping clients find composting solutions for their used Vegware – we've been working on this full-time since 2012. Find out more about your region's composting options by visiting the Composting tab under our About page.
- How do compostables solve food contamination?
- Combining plastic and card in foodservice packaging can create massive recycling challenges. Food contamination is inevitable, so the result is incineration or landfill.
For disposables destined for serving food, it makes sense to use materials that can be recycled together with food. With compostable disposables, food isn’t contamination, it’s a vital ingredient in the composting process.
- What's wrong with 'recyclable'?
- Everyone likes the word ‘recyclable’, but here’s some news which highlights the real challenges of recycling used ‘recyclable’ packaging.
Many countries export their recycling, and recent news has brought to light that it's not actually getting recycled.
For example, the UK exports 70% of its paper and 66% of its plastic for recycling. China took a lot of exported UK recycling, but over the years discovered it isn’t good enough quality to recycle. Since January 2018, China has banned imports of household plastics, and only accepts cardboard and paper with less than 0.5% contamination. Other Asian countries are implementing or considering similar bans, to avoid becoming a dumping ground for unrecyclable waste. Food contamination is a major problem, and the British recycling industry worries that most UK card and paper won’t meet China’s standards.
What’s the learning here? That in reality, card + plastic + food isn’t recyclable.
- Do plant-based materials work as well as plastic?
- Absolutely. We’ve won awards for our product quality and functionality, in addition to being recognised for our eco ethos and environmental services.
- What's the difference between biodegradable and compostable?
- Same process, different breakdown speeds. Biodegradable tells us nothing about timescales – for example, wood is biodegradable,
but a log cabin can stand for generations. Compostable means that packaging can break down in under 12 weeks in composting conditions,
and is therefore suitable for industrial composting.
Make sure your disposables supplier has compostability certification – that’s the real guarantee. Vegware holds the most extensive compostability certification of any UK packaging supplier – read more about certification in the Our materials section of our About page.
- What are the benefits of compost?
- Officially defined as a form of recycling, composting keeps resources in your region without relying on export.
Waste is turned into useful resources, helping businesses reduce their environmental impact and join the circular economy.
Compost is used in agriculture, horticulture, and landscaping to nourish soil and improve its structure to help grow healthy plants. It sequesters carbon and can also help reduce the risk of floods – UK soils are in crisis, and former Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has warned that British farms are 30 to 40 years away from “the fundamental eradication of soil fertility”. Compost returns nutrients to the soil, and has the added benefit of improving soil structure.
- Where can Vegware be composted?
- As you read this, there are industrial composting facilities processing used Vegware. Since 2012,
our Environmental team have been working with composters to set up trials to make sure it works in practice.
In-vessel composting (IVC) is one of the main processes suited to composting our products, as well some
anaerobic digestion (AD) plants with a composting phase.
Within the UK, we now work with over a third of the 53 suitable in-vessel composting facilities, and are actively engaging with the waste sector to overcome any barriers. Additionally, since July 2018, UK garden waste composting facilities (using open windrow composting) are officially allowed to consider processing certified compostable drinks cups and lids.
Read more about commercial composting, as well as options in your part of the world, under the Composting section on our About page.
- What are composting conditions?
- Compostable packaging needs to be in the right composting conditions in order to break down. Commercial, also known as industrial, composting creates the perfect balance of microbes, moisture and warmth, so that compostable packaging can be included in food waste recycling. Learn more about composting in our Composting section on the About page.
- Can I compost Vegware at home in my garden?
- Home composting conditions and the householder's skills vary, so we don't make any claims here, but there have been successful trials using hot compost bins.
Additionally, some Vegware packaging is certified home compostable, including our NatureFlex products and bin liners. For the best results, we advise industrial composting.
- Can I include Vegware in my household food waste collection?
- Within a UK household food waste collection, our products would be recognised as contamination. Unfortunately, at present compostables are not wide spread enough for UK councils to adapt their collections to include compostable packaging along with food waste.
In the Republic of Ireland, all businesses and householders are required to have a brown bin, which goes to organics recycling for composting, and can include Vegware.
- What about composting collections?
- Compostables are still relative newcomers compared to other materials, so trade collections aren’t available everywhere,
but Vegware is actively changing that in the UK, and assisting clients worldwide to help them identify solutions.
In the UK, we partner with the waste sector in many regions and have also launched our own composting collection service, Close the Loop. We have near-national coverage for Scotland, and are working on launching in other regions.
Within the US, our Zero Waste Director advises clients on options in their region so they can compost their Vegware. For the rest of the world, our Environmental team, located in our Edinburgh, UK headquarters, can provide guidance. Refer to the Composting section of our About page for more information.
- Is Vegware suitable for on-site composting?
- If you have space, staff, and a use for compost, on-site composting can be an exciting opportunity to process your used Vegware. Read more in our Composting section under the About page.
- Can I compost Vegware in my area?
- Visit our Composting section on the About page to see how Vegware's Environmental team can support your region.
- If I can’t compost my Vegware, is it still better for the environment than conventional packaging?
- Yes! There are environmental benefits of Vegware packaging on the production-side. Our products are made from plants using renewable, lower carbon, recycled or reclaimed materials.
The earth has finite resources. Disposables are used for such a short time, so it makes sense to switch to renewable materials, reserving conventional plastics for applications where they can’t be easily replaced. Lots of people enjoy using plant-based materials, knowing they are a simple way to reduce carbon and help their business go green.
- Which bin should it go in if I can't compost it?
- Where there is no access to industrial composting facilities, used Vegware should be put in general waste. Vegware’s takeaway packaging is made from plants using renewable, lower carbon, recycled or reclaimed materials, and these sustainability benefits still apply no matter what happens to them after use.
Used Vegware should not be placed in standard recycling bins which collect paper, plastics and metals, as those materials go to a different type of sorting facility. Another reason is that food waste harms the quality of mechanical recycling – the same applies to any used foodservice disposables.
General waste goes to either incineration or landfill. If Vegware is incinerated, energy is produced. Incineration studies on compostable packaging from NatureWorks, a key materials supplier of ours, show that their PLA bioplastic produces more heat than newspaper, wood or food waste; also that it produces no volatile gases and leaves little residue. Some in the waste sector prefer plant-based materials over conventional plastics as they give off fewer toxic gases.
In landfill, studies have shown that compostable packaging is inert and does not give off methane.
Please do not litter – compostable packaging is not expected to break down when discarded in the environment, and is not a solution to marine pollution.
- Can Vegware be recycled with card or plastic?
- Conventional food packaging products are not typically recyclable because they are made of mixed materials and are contaminated with food. We do not advise our customers to recycle our products with dry mixed recycling. Instead, we work with our customers in closed environments to find a route to composting for used Vegware products and food waste.
- Will Vegware products compost in landfill?
- Not many people are aware that landfill conditions are actually designed to prevent materials breaking down. At Vegware, we designed a comprehensive range of compostable disposables in order to help divert disposables and associated food waste from landfill.
- Will Vegware products biodegrade in the sea/ocean?
- Our products are designed to break down with food waste, we have not tested how our products behave in marine conditions. We want to see an end to marine litter. At Vegware, we work tirelessly to promote composting of plant-based materials as an alternative to unrecyclable plastic waste.
- Where is it easiest to capture used compostables?
- Vegware’s close ties to the waste sector means we are able to help identify composting solutions for many of our clients – from contract caterers operating on-site dining for large corporate office buildings, hotels, universities, and more –
to independent cafés and those holding events such as large-scale festivals or sports venues. We also encourage sites to offer
a bring-back scheme to entice customers to return their used Vegware takeaways. This can operate as a loyalty card scheme,
with customers earning a point or stamp towards a free drink or other treat, for each item returned.
Used Vegware can be captured within the site’s bins, designated by signage for composting, which allows us to work with their waste teams to set up composting schemes. Cup recycling schemes are making huge strides; however, ours is a solution for all disposables and food waste, not just cups.
Additionally, Vegware has teamed up with First Mile, a UK waste company, and their Return and Recycle initiative – a courier collection service perfect for individuals or businesses with a boxful of used Vegware – that’s turned into bio energy, and a nutrient-rich soil improver.
- What about on-the-go?
- Composting your Vegware? Offer a bring-back scheme! We encourage clients to operate a loyalty programme with a difference, rewarding customers who bring back their used Vegware while tackling the issue of on-the-go recycling.
Many clients offer their own loyalty card where, for each used Vegware product returned, a customer earns a point or stamp towards a free hot drink or other treat. This helps increase footfall while capturing used Vegware takeaways, helping to get the packaging into the correct waste stream so it can fulfil its potential to become compost, while also boosting clients' recycling rates and green credentials.
- How can I introduce a new recycling system to my site?
- Vegware clients who are composting their used Vegware can receive award-winning support from our Environmental team. A key part of the switch-over is education and behaviour change, creating clear bin signage and training everyone involved – from customers to catering managers and waste operatives.
- If plastics are easily recycled, shouldn't I just use plastic packaging?
- The actuality is they can’t be recycled easily. Foodservice packaging made from conventional oil-based plastics – once stained with food and drink residue –
are a massive recycling challenge.
A lot of UK plastic and paper is exported overseas with no guarantee it is actually being recycled. Britain does not have the requisite infrastructure to recycle its own plastic waste, with only 9% of plastic recycled domestically. Most often, plastic can only be recycled one or two times, often into something that is unable to hold food or heavy items.
Instead, composting is a local form of recycling, boosting local economy and supplying nutrient-rich compost for local agricultural, horticultural or flood management. Read more here about how Vegware has been growing the UK’s trade routes to access composting.
- If Vegware describes a fibre-based product as ‘made from recyclable materials’, what does that mean?
- It means that this Vegware product has certification to show it has passed a pulpability test in a laboratory, replicating how a standard paper mill recycles paper and card.
A pulpability test is when a product is pulped to measure how much fibre it would provide for making new products. The certification we hold follows the testing protocol PTS-RH 021:2012.
- If Vegware describes a fibre-based product as ‘made from recyclable materials’, can I put it in a normal recycling bin?
Short answer – it depends on the local infrastructure and the amount of food on your used packaging, so let’s help you get it to suitable industrial composting. Here’s our Keen to compost form. If in doubt and you can’t access a suitable composting bin, put it in general waste.
Longer answer… The recyclability certification we have looks at the material our product is made from, but real-world recycling of used packaging is complex, and infrastructure is different everywhere. There’s variation within the same country. Waste sorting facilities vary in how they select what goes on to a paper mill. Paper mills have slightly different processes, so what is accepted can vary between mills.
Then there’s the food factor – food is unwanted contamination at a paper mill. Packaging which has served your meal is very likely to have grease, sauce or food scraps. Liquid can also spoil card and paper which would otherwise get recycled. Recyclers can’t risk ruining their systems, so contaminated packaging generally goes to incineration or landfill.
All this is why we still recommend industrial composting as the best solution for Vegware products. We are proud to offer industry-leading expertise and support for clients to Close the Loop with composting.
- Which fibre-based product categories are made of recyclable materials, and which aren’t?
Over 250 of Vegware’s fibre products are made from recyclable materials:
- Paperboard: double and single wall cups and paper lids, soup containers and paper lids, food cartons, Bon Appetit paper bowls and lids, microflute, paper cutlery, premium burger boxes, pizza boxes, paper cold cups, kraft food trays, hot food cones, kraft clutches, sandwich cards, cup carry trays, carry packs.
- Bagasse / moulded fibre: Nourish moulded fibre, bagasse takeaway boxes and tableware, bagasse portion pots, Gourmet range bases and bagasse lids, chip trays.
- Paper: recycled paper carriers, paper straws, paper bags with no window, sugar sticks.
These fibre ranges are not made from recyclable materials:
- Paper tissue (not accepted at paper mills): napkins, centrefeed rolls.
- Wood (not accepted at paper mills): wooden cutlery, stirrers.
- Paper or paperboard with too much window: salad boxes, sandwich and wrap boxes, Gourmet card window lids, sandwich platters, paper window bags (PLA / NatureFlex / glassine bags).
- Why has Vegware invested in recyclability testing and certification for fibre-based products?
With a worldwide focus on updating packaging regulations, it is more important than ever to have independently verified information about how Vegware’s products perform in a variety of end-of-life scenarios.
Vegware still see industrial composting as the best solution for our full range, but we have long known that specific paper mills can recycle our PLA-lined paper cups. With the market shift away from plastics, fibre-based materials are a big focus for Vegware. We want to increase understanding and avoid greenwashing. So investing in third-party laboratory testing and certification arms us and our clients with the information we need.
- How is Vegware going to show which fibre-based products are ‘made from recyclable materials’?
We are adding this phrase to the relevant product descriptions on our website product and in our marketing material. That is so that procurement professionals can see this information, to help with their decision making.
Our on-product messaging is aimed at people using the products to eat their lunch. Our messaging here will stay focused on industrial composting. We aren’t adding recyclability info to our on-product messaging, as we want to avoid accidentally encouraging food waste contamination in otherwise dry recycling.
- Can a distributor of Vegware products market them as recyclable?
We would encourage our distributor partners to describe the relevant products as ‘made from recyclable materials’ in line with our certification, rather than solely ‘recyclable’. Our Environmental team is on hand to support any Vegware distributor, and business using our products, with information about composting.
Distributors can share this simple form with Vegware clients: Vegware.com/KeenToCompost
- Can Vegware’s paper cups go in cup recycling schemes?
Some but not all – it depends on the cup recycling scheme, and which paper mill will be reprocessing them.
In the UK, our PLA-lined cups are able to be recycled by DS Smith, but not by James Cropper (who are also unable to accept aqueous-lined cups).
- What evidence does Vegware have for the challenges of claiming foodservice packaging is recyclable?
The UK Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) publish ‘Design for Recyclability Guidelines’, which go into detail in section 6.13: “Food waste sitting in the pack (free moving food), food attached to the surface (3D residue), and traces and stains that fully soak the paper, is regarded as unacceptable.”
The UK Competition & Markets Authority issues the Green Claims Code, a legal framework for businesses. This highlights ‘recyclable’ as potentially misleading if used without explaining exactly how the item can be recycled.
Vegware’s Environmental team includes Chartered and Associate members of the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM), who hear about contamination challenges first-hand from recyclers.
Whilst reviewing and testing our fibre-based products for recyclability, Vegware conducted in-depth interviews with paper mills, waste collectors and labelling experts.
- Why is it important to get the detail right in recyclability claims?
Producer responsibility is important to us. Vegware has always aimed to be well-informed about packaging waste, and transparent with our clients to build trust between the packaging and waste sectors.
There are also legal frameworks we need to follow regarding claims, and sharing accurate information helps our distributors and clients comply with the law. The UK Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) can deal with infringements of consumer protection law using civil action and criminal enforcement. The EU is developing anti-greenwashing regulations. The US Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides govern the claims a business can make.
- How does Vegware’s recyclability info help with incoming Extended Producer Responsibility policies?
In the UK, the government is still working out the details of how the new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme is going to work. According to the guidance published so far, we know that the fees Vegware pays will vary by material type and how recyclable it is.
Vegware’s range includes a huge variety of fibre-based products which will fit into the EPR categories ‘paper / card’ and ‘fibre-based composites’. We don’t yet know how these new rules will judge recyclability but are pleased to have certification stating many of our products are made from recyclable materials.
- What is the difference between recyclable and recycled?
These two words often get mixed up, but they are very different.
Recyclable: is it able to be recycled? This refers to an item’s options when it is discarded – can it be reprocessed into a new product?
Recycled content: has it already been recycled? Recycled content is material which was previously recovered from the waste of a different product. So when Vegware talks about our recycled paper bags, these are made with paper which was previously waste.
- Are custom printed products compostable?
- Yes. As with all Vegware, our custom print products can be commercially composted where accepted.
- What do I need to provide for a custom print product?
We need your logo and any additional text and artwork elements you may want included. We ideally require these in a vector format, however, depending on the product, we may be able to use high resolution jpegs (300dpi or higher). Please include instructions if you have a specific idea in mind for your artwork.
If you order through one of our distributor partners, please send this information directly to them.
- How much do you charge to put artwork together?
- Our Creative team will spend up to an hour on a custom print request and, if needed, can amend the design based on your feedback. Over and above this first free hour, we will charge a flat rate for each additional amendment.
- What happens once my artwork has been created?
- We will send you a digital proof of your artwork so that you can approve the colours, sizing and positioning before it goes to print.
- How do I make sure the colours are correct?
- We ask that you provide CMYK values or Pantones codes to ensure colours come out as you expect. These values will also be stated on the digital proof so that you can sign off on them.
- How do I decide between Pantone or CMYK colours?
- Please refer to our Pantones vs CMYK guidance sheet.
- What types of finish are available for double wall hot cups?
- We can print on either matt or gloss board, depending on your preference. Matt board is slightly textured and is similar in finish to recycled paper. Gloss board is smooth and shiny, ideal if you want your colours to be more vivid.
- What kind of inks are used for custom printed products?
- All of our products are printed using vegetable or water-based inks, and the finish is great.
- Can I design my own custom print artwork?
Yes! If you would like to design your own custom printed products and have access to Adobe software, please get in touch so that we can supply you with the correct templates and guidelines.
If you order through one of our distributor partners, please contact them directly for this information.
- What file formats do you work with?
- If you are providing your own artwork, we accept Adobe Illustrator (.ai), editable .pdfs or .eps files.
- How long will it take for me to receive my custom printed product?
- Timing varies based on the product, design and quantity ordered. Please contact our Customer Service team who can provide a more detailed timeline.