Great Wrap on a roll with innovative new products
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Great Wrap on a roll with innovative new products

Category Client Stories

Julia and Jordy Kay

Julia and Jordy Kay admit they’ve always been ‘big picture’ thinkers – both abuzz with curiosity and vision, particularly when it comes to the sustainability of our planet.

And their current venture is set to be one for the history books.

In three short years this husband and wife duo has developed one of Australia’s most significant new start-ups, Great Wrap – a home compostable stretch wrap made from potato waste, eliminating the need for petroleum-based plastic and reducing food waste.

While a mission to remove petroleum-based plastics from homes and industry globally may seem like an ambitious task, for this undaunted Victorian couple it was a natural progression.

Julia, an architect, and Jordy, a wine maker, both enjoyed previous careers that enabled them to directly contribute to long-term societal solutions.

“As an architect I was passionate about designing buildings that would last for the next 100 years and be a gift for the communities around them, likewise Jordy was farming organically to help ensure the future sustainability of our soils and production,” Julia explains. 

“Yet I started to get a bit frustrated, the world is burning around me and I thought ‘what is the point of building this life if I’m not doing anything to protect the environment?’”

Jordy shared her frustrations. “We were doing great things, we were taking a lot of care, but we could be doing something more meaningful – something a bit bigger than ourselves.”

And the answer was quite literally looking them in the face.

Australia uses 150,000 tonnes of plastic wrap per year, and as an architect on construction sites, and as a wine maker, Julia and Jordy were both heavily exposed to traditional pallet wrap.

“Pallet Wrap really is the connector of all business and supply, and we saw this great opportunity, in an archaic industry, that no one was tackling.”

“I’ve always had a strong social conscience, and got into architecture excited by the prospect of designing the future you want to live in – but I never envisioned I’d design the solution for plastic,” Julia smiles.

Great Wrap’s meteoric rise

In March 2020 when the world was locking down with Covid, Julia and Jordy were busier than ever, poring over research papers and developing their idea.

In three short years they’ve partnered with Monash University for lab style testing, investors and bio tech companies to navigate through what the start-up world refers to as ‘death valley’ – the gap from lab to commercial scale.

“In our research Jordy came across a paper that spoke about starch as a biopolymer so we initially experimented using corn starch.”

Ultimately corn starch – which relies on intensive agriculture and high chemical inputs – was not the best option, with the couple ideally looking to utilise a waste option rather than something ‘farmed for purpose’. 

“We saw waste as a problem no one was really treating, and the potential to turn that into a high value product made a lot of sense to us.”

After much research and trial work, the humble spud was identified as the starch of choice – helping mitigate 100,000 tonnes – from one facility alone – of potato waste annually.

In a two-pronged approach with a multitude of benefits, this innovative start up is not only putting an end to petroleum plastic reliance, but also capturing food waste that would otherwise go into fields being fed to cows and rot in the paddock, emitting methane in the process.

“The potato waste – mainly skins and funky shaped off-cuts - is fed into a type of bacteria which stores the starch in its cell wall and turns it into a sludge like by-product, and that’s what we convert into the biopolymer that we then use to manufacture our wrap. It’s an amazing natural process.”

Great Wrap currently offers a number of products which include home compostable cling wrap for household use, compostable catering wrap for hospitality use, compostable pallet wrap for businesses, and compostable pallet caps for distribution centres and freight and logistics handlers.

These products are helping eliminate the 150,000 tonnes of plastic wrap used per year in Australia, one roll at a time.

This month, Great Wrap is also set to launch a new product to its range, Great Mate - a refillable dispenser with a lifetime warranty, made from 33 ocean-bound plastic bottles.

Replacing the drab plastic dispensers that litter kitchens globally, the ergonomic design – developed by Julia – is as aesthetically appealing as it is meaningful.

“This product improves cling wrap functionality for consumers, reduces impact on our waste systems and expands the market of refillable and reusable products that are in demand from consumers, and of course its modular design ensures it will stay in your kitchen for a lifetime.”

Julia and Jordy Kay

A fully circular model

On a journey to total vertical integration, Great Wrap is moving toward a fully circular model – a move the company’s new, solar powered factory at Tullamarine will help facilitate.

Currently, the team has to import some of its biopolymers, meaning food waste is being put through the polymerisation process off-site.

With their new factory – which includes three new state of the art pallet wrap manufacturing machines recently installed by Austrian engineers – opening this month, Julia predicts that by the end of 2023 they will be able to make the raw materials themselves – collecting the potato waste at their factory, putting it through the polymerisation process and manufacturing, all on-site.

“Our vision is that all pallet wrap is made locally from a local waste source, so the new Tullamarine factory is the first step in that play book, that we can then roll out globally.”

A company local to Tullamarine will supply their food waste in the very near future – an exciting prospect, Julia said, particularly from a carbon miles perspective.

And with Great Wrap’s cling wrap breaking down in just 91 days, she said the company will soon be diverting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at levels akin to 100,000 cars each year.

The new factory also represents a significant scale up for the husband and wife run start-up – with former production levels of 1,000 rolls of pallet wrap a day skyrocketing to 100,000 rolls a day, and staff increasing from 30 to 100.

“We really do pinch ourselves, it’s been an amazing journey.”

FoodBytes! supporting Great Wrap

In November 2021 Great Wrap was named as one of three winners of Rabobank’s FoodBytes! Pitch program, a global food and agriculture innovation program that drives collaboration between start-ups, corporate leaders and investors to develop solutions to food system challenges.

Foodbytes!, Nina Meijers said Great Wrap aligned perfectly with the program’s objectives, and that Rabobank was thrilled to be supporting their journey.

“We believe Great Wrap’s technology will have massive impact on the industry in terms of sustainable packaging and waste reduction – pallet wrap is just the beginning, and our corporate and investor members agree.”

“Jordy, Julia and their dynamic team are in active pilot and partnership discussions with a number of investors, who understand the value in scaling this ground-breaking tech as quickly as possible.”

As part of the program FoodBytes! provided mentoring services and industry connections – networking which Julia described as “invaluable”.

“Thanks to Rabobank’s FoodBytes! program we were introduced to a fellow FoodBytes! member which provides potato waste, and who we’ve been able to form a really meaningful relationship with – it’s relationships such as this that has really helped get us over the line when it comes to using local waste.”

More than anything, she said FoodBytes! had helped them establish a valuable network of mission aligned people.

“Having your own business can be lonely, and when you’re like us and come up with a mad idea to end plastic, it’s nice to be reminded that there are others out there on a similar path.”

To learn more about Great Wrap compostable cling wrap for home and or business visit: https://www.greatwrap.co/

Julia and Jordy Kay

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