People, planet and profit in equal balance. That’s what the folks at Ecoware believe is key to sustainability.

As a company, Ecoware has spent 10 years researching and developing plant-based alternative materials and more sustainable options for the single-use packaging industry.

Currently they produce a range of food and beverage packaging made from bamboo, corn, beet and cassava to name just a few.

“We came about to reduce the plastic in the industry and replace as much traditional plastic made from petro-chemicals or nonrenewable resources,” says Kristy Wilson, Ecoware’s marketing manager and sustainability leader.

“We wanted to switch out that type of non-renewable plastic with packaging made from plants.”

They also use bio plastics which, although it is technically still a plastic, is made from a renewable resource and supplied by an American company called Natureworks.

“Our plant plastic is amazing, and we prefer to use Ingeo bio plastic which is a reputable brand of bio plastic. They use mostly corn, but other starch as well and a few root vegetables like beet and cassava,” Kristy says.

“They extract the glucose from the vegetables and then they extract the lactic acid from it by the process of hydrolysis. Lactic acid is a building block for so many things and that’s what we turn into PLA. Then it’s transported in tiny pallets and because it’s a thermo plastic it just needs heat to be molded into many different forms of packaging.”

This is used to make Ecoware cutlery, straws and the lids for coffee cups from as well as a very thin coating inside the coffee cups.

“The good thing is that it is certified commercially compostable, so it’s made from plants and designed and manufactured to be turned back into soil and go back into the ground,” says Kristy.

“Because we are trying to be as sustainable as possible, it’s really important we source responsibly. Most of our paper is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC® C142978) certified. We try to back up our products with certification where we can. It’s not enough for us just to source paper and plant material. We make sure the materials are responsibly sourced as well.”

It’s equally as important for Ecoware to be transparent about the sustainability measures being taken and Kristy hopes this sets a precedent for their consumers, customers and the industry.

“Everybody needs to be honest with how they are tracking. Sustainability is a journey. We are never going to have a destination, an end point. It’s always going to be changing, and evolving and improving.

“We wanted to be leaders in the market and put our sustainability before everything else so we highlight where we are at, our strengths and weaknesses and all our goals so that we not only keep ourselves accountable, but we set an example and hope that our competitors and our customers do the same too.”

Most of Ecoware’s products are manufactured in Asia using cutting edge technology and non-toxic, soy or water-based inks.

However, not only was it important for Ecoware to supply products that were sustainable, they also needed to be fit for purpose. Kristy says, in order to attract people to make sustainable decisions, the products need to be as good or even better than traditional single use packaging.

“We didn’t want to just make products made from plants that are compostable and eco-friendly. They actually need to perform just as well if not better.

“The main message I’m trying to share with all our customers is to think how you can make changes so we can find and maintain that balance. So, we can maintain the harmony between planet, people and profit. That is a sustainable world.”

To read the extended version of this article see our digital edition.