8 April 2020
8 April 2020
Winemaker Jordy Kay puts a lot of effort into farming grapes organically, making wine naturally and wax sealing every bottle by hand. But until recently, he was forced to wrap his finished product in plastic for transport, which seemed counterintuitive.
“It’s the sort of problem that once you see it you can’t unsee it,” he says. “You drive past a truck with dozens of pallets wrapped in shrink wrap on the back; you drive past a shipping yard and you see hundreds of pallets; you drop stuff off at a warehouse the size of a football field and see thousands upon thousands of them, all wrapped in plastic.”
So widespread is this problem that for years Kay assumed someone else would step in to fix it. When no one did, he and his wife Julia decided to “give it a crack” and created Great Wrap, the world’s first certified compostable and biodegradable shrink wrap.
On a mission to save the environment
There are a few biodegradable stretch wraps already on the market, but, as Kay says, the term biodegradable is loose enough that many products classified as such are actually “environmental hand grenades,” capable of leaving behind microplastics and the like.
To gauge the level of interest for their product, the Kays first tested the market using an existing biodegradable wrap. “We set up a crappy website with our own branding and a simple mailout, but it went incredibly well,” says Kay. “Off the back of that we were contacted by a lot of really big wineries, airports and dairy companies, even tattoo studios in the United States.
“We thought even if we capture just 1% of the total stretch wrap industry, that’s still a million pallets’ worth a year. It was good validation to really go for it.”
After months of trial and error, the Kays launched their fully compostable, non-toxic, corn-starch based Great Wrap in March 2020. It takes 180 days to compost in a pile, but as it breaks down into carbon and water it will break down in a non-compost environment as well.
A game changer for the wine industry
Despite its slightly dearer price (Kay estimates it would cost a winemaker $2.50 to wrap a pallet using Great Wrap versus $1.50 with regular shrink wrap), the response has already been huge, with producers as large as Carlton United Breweries and Penfolds interested in making the switch. There’s also a version of Great Wrap for home currently in production. Kay estimates it will be available in about eight weeks.
Kay accepts that other manufacturers will follow suit and launch their own versions of compostable and biodegradable stretch wrap in the near future. He sees it as a good thing. “The goal we set out to achieve was to raise the standard for packaging in Australia, that was our vision,” he says.
Kay is also working with a number of companies on setting up compost collection services. “It’s a full circular economy,” he says. “What would have been billions of kilograms of plastic in landfill ends up decomposing in the soil instead, helping other things grow.”
For more information, visit greatwrap.co
By Anna Webster