Industrially Compostable Packaging Leader Vegware To Expand Across North America After Novolex Acquisition

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Vegware, a British biobased industrially compostable food packaging company, has been acquired by American packaging firm Novolex. While it will be joining Novelex’s sustainable packaging subsidiary Eco-Products, Vegware’s label will remain intact. It says that coming under Novolex leadership will allow the company to expand distribution, especially in the U.S. market. 

Edinburgh-based Vegware has recently been bought out by Novolex, a U.S. packaging company headquartered in South Carolina operated by The Carlyle Group. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed, but Novolex says that Vegware’s brand will “remain intact” as it joins the company’s growing Eco-Products portfolio, which is a certified B Corp offering foodservice packaging made from renewable and recycled resources.

Frankel says that coming under Novolex’s leadership and its “exceptional resources and large footprint” will be key to its continued growth in the coming years. 

“Vegware has been committed to quality, performance and design for over 15 years,” said the founder. “[It] will allow Vegware to expand distribution of quality compostable products and waste management initiatives to our customers across the globe.” 

Industrially Compostable Biobased Packaging

Vegware makes compostable food packaging out of plant-based materials.

Founded in 2006 by Joe Frankel, Vegware makes its cups, cutlery, tableware and takeout packaging using renewable plant-based materials, such as cornstarch-based bio-plastic, recycled sugarcane fibre and wood pulp. Its products are designed to be commercially compostable with food waste, and are currently sold across 70 countries. 

Commercially compostable packaging, more commonly known as industrially compostable, requires industrial composting plants with controlled conditions (heat, humidity and oxygen) to breakdown. Globally, industrial composting infrastructure is minimal- in the United States, less than 2% of cities have access to composting plants. This is a risk to the company as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulation is also becoming increasingly common. Just this month, Maine became the first US state to ratify a EPR law for consumer packaging. In the EU, a new Single-Use Packaging Directive came into effect in July to address plastic waste, with huge ramifications for consumer goods and packaging manufacturers. Going forward, it will be crucial for Vegware to address what is known as ‘end of life’ for their products- in other words, what happens to the packaging after use.

North American expansion

Vegware will be expanding its footprint in the U.S. market.

Novolex says that Vegware, which will continue to be sold using its own label after joining its Eco-Products portfolio, is expected to benefit from the “additional access to the North American market.” 

It comes amid growing demand for environmentally-friendly packaging products, as a result of consumer pressure on F&B brands and businesses to take responsibility for the mounting waste crisis. Earlier this year, a report revealed that just four food and drink items—single-use bags, bottles, containers, and wrappers—account for nearly half of all plastic pollution on shorelines and the sea.

“Vegware is an excellent company and its addition to Novolex is an exciting step to growing our global compostable products footprint,” commented Novolex chairman and CEO Stan Bikulege, who added that it will help “maintain our momentum of supporting brands that meet society’s expectations for sustainable products.” 

Novolex also owns sustainable packaging firm Eco-Products. (Image: Eco-Products)

Perhaps the most lucrative of opportunities lies in the food delivery market, which has seen sales skyrocket amid Covid-19 as more consumers opt for takeaway instead of dine-in at restaurants. 

Under the spotlight for their role in fuelling takeout waste, food delivery platforms are now stepping up their sustainability efforts, with the likes of Foodpanda recently pledging to offer its restaurant partners 10 million units of green packaging by 2022. Foodpanda’s parent firm Delivery Hero has chosen to work with Novolex’s Eco-Products, as well as German firm Bio-lutions. 


All images courtesy of Vegware.


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