Vegware and Paper Round begin commercial compostable collections

Plant-based packaging company Vegware has teamed up with recycling company Paper Round to launch a compostable packaging collection service across London, Brighton and Sussex.

An image of Vegware products

The new service will see Paper Round collect Vegware compostable disposables in London, Brighton and the surrounding area and deliver the compostables to an in-vessel composting facility enVar, in Cambridgeshire. Here, it will be processed over seven weeks into compost compliant with the PAS 100 quality specification. Quality will also be checked by Paper Round’s systematic audits at participating client sites.

The service has been given the go-ahead after a successful 12-month pilot scheme, across a dozen London sites including corporate offices catered by Bartlett Mitchell, ISS Food Services and Sodexo, and Interserve FM, which provides catering services for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Launching the service during the Covid-19 pandemic, where concerns over safety have led to a shift to disposables for hygiene reasons and increased “demand” for throwaway products, the composting partnership believes the scheme going forward is a ‘sustainable waste management solution for businesses’.

Aside from the separate waste stream, Bill Swan, Paper Round’s Managing Director explains that as the pilot scheme revealed “the importance of engagement and education to keep contamination levels low” the partnership will seek to train businesses on best recycling practices to ensure that the recyclables meet the requirements of composting sites.

A webinar is scheduled for 27 May to discuss the compostables collection service and educate businesses in minimising contamination in the disposal of Vegware’s compostables. 

Commenting on the new composting partnership Bill Swan, Paper Round’s Managing Director, said: “We are excited to launch this new product after successful trials with several Vegware customers. Our trials uncovered the importance of engagement and education to keep contamination levels low. Before launching a composting service, we wanted to make sure that we had a system that would deliver a viable waste stream for processors. After testing with a range of customer types we are now confident that this is possible.”

Vegware’s Environmental and Communications Director, Lucy Frankel, commented: “Caterers can only return to work with a major focus on safety and distancing. In the current environment disposables are in greater demand than ever, and sustainability is still paramount. We share Paper Round’s focus on quality source segregation and are pleased to see clients engaging with this issue. We are proud to launch this new composting solution to enable London, Brighton and Sussex to compost used Vegware disposables.”

Catherine Burrows, Waste Development Manager, Sodexo commented: “We know that food service is going to see an increased demand for disposable packaging as workplaces start to reopen and this partnership is an important step in alleviating the impact this will have on the environment and our sustainability efforts.”
The compostable journey

The partnership with Paper Round represents the latest expansion in Vegware’s collections infrastructure. In 2018, Vegware developed ‘Close the Loop’, operating in Scotland, Worcester and Bristol, collecting used Vegware products from signed-up businesses and taking them on to commercial composting facilities.

The same year, the Renewable Energy Association’s (REA) Organics Recycling Group announced that garden waste composting facilities across the UK were able to process certified compostable hot and cold cups and lids.

Earlier this month, Vegware launched guidance for caterers adapting to socially distanced models of catering and how to integrate compostable disposables.

The Houses of Parliament previously made a point of championing compostables in September 2018 by stating that it would be replacing some single-use plastics with Vegware compostables. However, an investigation by Footprint revealed that the compostables being collected on site were being sent for incineration due to shortcomings in the waste supply chain, highlighting the need to ensure the correct collections infrastructure is in place to deal with them.

You can read more on Vegware’s website about its products and the scheme.