Edinburgh eco packaging firm and BBIA member Vegware has won its second Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation – the SME’s 60th accolade. This recognises Vegware’s innovations in zero waste for foodservice – compostable catering disposables backed up with free expert recycling support. Scotland’s fifth fastest-growing firm, and among the UK’s top 100, Vegware has grown 57 per cent on average a year since 2012, now accounting for around two per cent of UK catering disposables. The firm marks the win with a short animation on the compostable solution to cup recycling, and its new Green Tree collection with motifs celebrating sustainability.
Managing Director Joe Frankel founded the firm in 2008. He said: “Winning the Queen’s Award again is a huge honour. The journey has been fantastic – when we started, the only option for used takeaway packaging was to go to landfill or incineration, as most still does. But we changed that by creating the widest range of genuinely compostable plastic-free catering disposables, and simultaneously working closely with the waste sector to ensure recycling options for clients all around the UK. With the current appetite for recycling, we are soon announcing a crowdsourcing campaign to create additional composting routes. We are proud to be a sustainability leader in foodservice.”
Vegware’s environmental team set up the Food Waste Network, a free consultancy service matching clients with suitable composting and AD options, as well as offering bespoke bin signage and expert support on communication and engagement to avoid contamination. Using these techniques, Glasgow’s Commonwealth Festival 2014 achieved 81 per cent recycling, and the University of Cambridge composts 1.5 tonnes of used Vegware every month.
The University of Surrey serves food in Vegware’s Green Tree collection, a new design celebrating sustainability. Like all of Vegware’s products, the compostable collection replaces plastics with plant materials with a lower carbon footprint.
Director of Hospitality Simon Booth explains: “Historically, cost was the most important factor for caterers, but the University of Surrey looks at the whole picture. Landfill costs are only going up, and a solution that removes this factor completely really helps us from a business perspective. The University of Surrey is very environmentally conscious. When we realised that over 80 per cent of the landfill waste produced was coming from retail areas, our caterers and estates got together to address the issue. The most positive step forward was to switch to a compostable range of foodservice products. Vegware was the perfect partner as they had the vision to help create the Green Tree collection, which meets all our needs. This year, we’re using the collection for our conferences and location business.”
Vegware’s new one-minute animation explains the recycling problem with plastic-lined cups, as highlighted recently by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s War on Waste, which exposed that only one in 400 disposable cups is recycled. Using the hashtag #wastenot, the film gained over 6,000 views in a week on @Vegware’s Facebook page, demonstrating huge interest in the compostable solution to zero waste in foodservice.
Awarded on the Queen’s 90th birthday, during her 50th award year, this win means a second invitation to meet Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace. Richard Branson will also be hosting Vegware at his Oxfordshire home this summer, as winners of the 2015 Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 with 57 per cent average growth a year over three years.
The firm’s products are used at 50 per cent of the UK’s universities, swathes of Canary Wharf and throughout the artisan café sector. Vegware is the only completely compostable packaging company operating globally, and has operational bases in the UK, USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, UAE and Hong Kong, with distribution throughout Europe, North America and most recently Barbados. As Vegware grows, it supports more non-profit projects with grants and product donations through the Vegware Community Fund. The firm also provides Eco Audits to quantify the carbon savings of switching from oil-based plastics to plant-based materials; in 2015 the firm displaced over 3,500 tonnes of carbon.
For more information, visit www.vegware.com or call 0330 223 0400.