We recently had a chat with Vegware founder Joe Frankel on all things disposable and compostable!
1. How did you first come up with the idea of Vegware?
It all started with a spoon. I was working in California when my wife brought home a spoon made of potato starch from a local farmer’s market. I thought it was the most wonderful thing I had ever seen! I realised there was nothing like it in the UK, so I founded Vegware in 2006.
2. What makes you different from other disposable packaging companies?
All of Vegware’s packaging is made from plants, not plastic. This means that it’s low in carbon, totally renewable and actually compostable with food waste – completely different to other disposable packaging companies out there! Alongside this we work closely with the waste industry to deliver full zero to landfill solutions – other packaging companies sell products. We provide a full solution which spans raw materials and manufacture through to waste management.
3. What has been the biggest challenge in developing this business?
We’ve had to challenge some preconceptions that eco packaging isn’t as high quality or stylish as ordinary packaging. We’ve done this with a dedicated research & development team and a fantastic design team, who love creating eco products that also look and feel amazing. Happily, we don’t encounter those preconceptions so much any more!
4. Where are your products now sold in the world?
We sell Vegware across Europe and the UK, in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and of course, Hong Kong.
5. How are you ensuring success, especially with the numerous plastic-alternatives entering the market every day?
What sets us apart is that we go beyond packaging, delivering both creative and environmental support to our customers. People love that they’re not just buying coffee cups or food packaging – they’re taking part in something that can reduce waste, save resources, and show off their brand.
6. What would you say to people who believe that disposable products are not the answer, but that we should embrace a reusables model?
Reusables can offer fantastic environmental benefits and we would always support the right solution. However, we believe there will always be a place for disposables, so we’re concentrating on making them sustainable by using renewable materials and making them compostable.
7. What has been the general response in Hong Kong and other Asian markets?
It’s been great – there’s definitely an increasing awareness of sustainability in these markets. Many of our customers in Hong Kong love that they can custom brand our packaging to show off their brand.
8. What is next for the company?
We’re excited to continue growing across the globe, and to carry on raising awareness of eco packaging. We’re also looking forward to developing new, innovative products and materials – watch this space!
9. Who inspires you most in life?
I get to travel a lot in my work and am frequently inspired by people I meet. It might be goodwill, insight, generosity or humour in the face of adversity but people the world over have amazing qualities that I can aspire to.
10. Anything else you’d like to share?
Vegware provides the only solution for zero to landfill in foodservice because our products can be recycled along with food waste. It’s an exciting time in our development as the infrastructure to do this is building in many parts of the world and we can start to share best practice. Getting this up and running takes time but it’s a solution we are very pleased to be bringing to Hong Kong.