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New trade waste service composts Bristol’s plastic-free takeaway packaging

Posted: 23rd January 2019

Bristol food businesses can now Close the Loop with a new composting collection launched by Vegware, the leading manufacturer of compostable catering disposables. Vegware’s Close the Loop service collects clients’ used takeaway packaging to turn into rich compost for UK fields. Additionally, their new bring-back scheme, the Composting Collective, captures used takeaway Vegware for composting.

Bristol is leading a huge move away from single-use plastic, yet foodservice businesses still rely on disposable containers to avoid reducing sales by up to a quarter. Conventional disposables are notoriously challenging to recycle, due to the mix of plastic, card and food residues. Vegware’s plant-based catering disposables are designed to be commercially composted. Their plastic-free coffee cups and lids, cutlery and takeaway containers are made from renewable, lower carbon or recycled materials.

In addition to other UK composting routes, Edinburgh-based Vegware launched their own Close the Loop trade collections across Scotland in 2017. They are now expanding Close the Loop in Bristol, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. The Close the Loop composting scheme collects the used Vegware and food waste from cafes, offices, schools and universities for industrial composting.

Street food market Platform at Argyle Street Arches, in Glasgow, uses Vegware’s catering disposables and Close the Loop. From March to October 2018, 6.2 tonnes of Platform’s compostable packaging and food waste went to composting, diverting it from landfill.

The University of the West of England (UWE) has already signed up to Bristol’s Close the Loop, in response to concerns from their 33,000 student and staff voice. Now, used Vegware from the main student restaurant at UWE’s Frenchay campus is turned into compost for Gloucestershire farmers. UWE’s Sustainable Projects Officer Eddy Piper says, “We are pleased to have found a way to reduce the impact of our single-use packaging.”

Takeaway is an integral part of consumers’ lifestyles, yet on-the-go recycling is known to be challenging. Vegware’s new bring-back scheme, the Composting Collective, captures used Vegware for composting. The scheme also aims to encourage people to visit independent cafés over high-street chains.

The Composting Collective unites local cafes, creating a network of bring-back points for consumers to access composting, even if it was bought elsewhere. Members, like Café Matariki at Pacific Yoga, or the Epiphany Café at the Royal West of England Academy, showcase their participation with window stickers and in-café posters.

UK soils are suffering a fertility crisis, and 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, reducing the risk of floods.


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Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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