We sat down with our Co-founder, Jordy Kay, to chat about his background, the start of Great Wrap and his vision for Great Wrap.
Can you tell us a little about your back story and how Great Wrap started?
"Before Great Wrap, I was making natural wine and farming organically. I was shipping my wines around the world and became extremely frustrated with the amount of petroleum-based plastics required to package and transport goods. From the moment Julia and I met, we knew we wanted to do something together outside of our careers and had been thinking about ideas for a really long time. We wanted to do something that was an intersection of our talents and interests and does good for the world.
We both worked in industries where we would spend hours labouring over hand-crafted, environmentally conscious materials, only to see them arrive and depart in layers of single-use plastic. It became obvious this was an issue we could no longer ignore.
Similar to how I approached winemaking, I couldn't just find someone to manufacture our cling wrap, design a cool website and sit back and relax. Julia and I wanted to take on the entire plastic industry, work with a university and use bacteria to ferment starch into a life-changing product."
How do you make compostable stretch wrap?
"Our first formula was made from PLA. PLA usually requires intensive agriculture that can be detrimental to the environment, and we want to offer products that solve problems, not create them. So, our product today is made from food waste and a mix of other compostable biopolymers. Using food waste as a raw ingredient means that we can contribute to the circular economy and solve more than one problem at a time.
The food waste that we use to create Great Wrap is processed into resin pallets. This resin, combined with our mix of compostable biopolymers, goes through the extrusion process. This basically means our Great Wrap recipe is heated up and then stretched out into a thin film that gets rolled onto a cardboard roll like you would recognise (it kind of looks like honey before it’s stretched out). Once our rolls come off our machine, our amazing factory team manages quality control and packs all of our orders. They’re the real heroes at Great Wrap!"
We hear a lot about biodegradable plastics and packaging. How does compostable wrap differ from this?
"Biodegradable packaging is made from petroleum, similar to plastic, but it has an organic additive that enables it to break down very easily when exposed to sunlight and moisture. The problem is that it breaks down into smaller pieces of plastic or microplastics! Compostable packaging, like Great Wrap, breaks down into carbon and water, leaving no toxins behind. It’s made mostly from organic matter or, in our case, food waste.
There are a couple of compost options, industrial and home. Industrial compostable packaging requires a compost environment with temperatures of about 60 degrees celsius to break down. If it does not reach these temperatures, then it can take years to completely break down. Great Wrap is home compostable, meaning it can break down in your compost pile at home in a matter of weeks. All it requires is a compost pile at ambient temperature to break down into carbon and water."
What is the single most challenging time in your business?
"Every day, we are faced with new challenges that we could never prepare for, like difficulties with our machines, Covid-19 or supplier delays. When you run a business, you make a lot of big plans, have a clear vision and set blue-sky goals, but it is inevitable that the biggest problems will always be the ones you haven’t got a contingency plan for. This keeps us level-headed and at peace with whatever work throws at us because we understand that it’s impossible to prepare for everything!"
What does living a sustainable life mean to you?
"For me, sustainable living means leaving the world in a better place than when we started for future generations."
What has been your favourite part about starting Great Wrap?
"Seeing an idea become a reality is a very special thing that every human deserves to celebrate. We believed that this industry needed to change, and the planet needed to benefit from that change. We are now starting to see that happen after a few years of some very hard work. Seeing that dream become a reality has been my favourite part of Great Wrap."
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
"Siddhartha by Herman Hesse is still my favourite book of all time. Sam Harris Podcast is the most balanced podcast for big ideas. Ultimately I read what I like rather than have it try to benefit my growth. Business books are good, but usually, you can find a good summary online and save yourself 10 hours of reading. That way, you can read a beautiful novel that shows far greater benefits for your mental health!"
What was the best piece of advice you have ever received?
"When everyone is going right, try going left." My dad – simple but great.
What is your favourite thing to wrap with Great Wrap?
"Half an avocado. I could never find a way to keep it fresh before Great Wrap that actually worked. Hot tip, wrap an avocado with a lemon on top, then the half avo will stay fresh for days. This is great if you are going away for a few days."
In ten years, where do you see Great Wrap?