Winner: Paper Round partners with Vegware to launch a large-scale commercial compostables service
Sponsored by: Ascot Services
Paper Round, a full-service waste and resource company, has partnered with Vegware to launch a large-scale, end-to-end commercial compostables service. Paper Round collects all compostable packaging and through its partnership converts it into nutrient-rich compost in seven weeks. The idea came about after Paper Round saw many customers begin using compostable disposables in their canteens.
Traditional catering disposables are challenging to recycle, given their paper-plastic composition and that they’re often still tarnished with residual food. Compostable packaging, made from plant-based materials, provides an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional single-use plastics as it is compostable. However, recycling compostables is not straightforward either. It requires specialist treatment and cannot be combined with conventional recycling. Composting facilities have low tolerance for contamination. So, Paper Round partnered with Vegware – the UK’s leading provider in compostable packaging – to find a viable solution to the problem.
After successful trials at 12 customer sites, Paper Round launched its Vegware Compostables collection service in May 2020 and has since rolled it out to 25 customers. The service requires thorough auditing of customers’ catering waste, and any items likely to contaminate the compostable stream are removed.
The service has resulted in removing more than 25 tonnes of material for composting from client sites. The pandemic affected roll-out, but customer satisfaction has been high and clients’ employees have noted a shift in behaviour. One example is a London-based financial firm with 2,000 staff and a high use of Vegware. Data from the three-month trial showed that before the trial commenced, staff were confused about where to dispose of the Vegware packaging, resulting in a 74 per cent contamination rate in the mixed recycling.
Through clear signage, the customer achieved a compostable stream with 85-90 per cent target material. Food contamination in mixed recycling dropped so recycling quality climbed by 42 per cent.
Recycling rates increased to 75-80 per cent and general waste production lowered by 6 per cent.
Best practice learning point
Key to the success of the service is keeping contamination levels low. Training and education was essential so employees at client sites would know what to recycle and where. Paper Round used visual cues, training sessions and audits to keep contamination levels low.
Gregg Gibbons, VP of Facilities and Voice Administration at Paper Round at investment management firm PIMCO, said of the service: “Once we were able to join the scheme and create the right waste pattern for the people to follow, making it easy for all to sort their waste properly, the response was exceedingly positive. I think it’s an easy thing to institute and brings a real sense of satisfaction to the end user.”