Melbourne couple Julia and Jordy Kay have revealed how they ‘solved the plastic problem’ and developed a cling film from potato waste
A young Australian couple quit their day jobs as architects and winemakers to tackle ‘the plastic problem’ after being discouraged by the sheer amount of waste in their industries.
Julia and Jordy Kay produce the world’s first compostable cling film and pallet film made from potato waste.
The Melbourne couple sold over $ 30,000 to ‘Great wrap‘in their first week.
Julia, 28, said they couldn’t make Great Wrap ‘fast enough’.
‘The guys in the factory are under the pump.
“We are proud to have converted 2,000 homes using plastic wrap,” she said of the first rush of online orders.
Packing them costs $ 14.95 for two 30 meter rolls.
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The couple sold $ 30,000 worth of wrap in their first week of online orders
They have a factory on the Mornington Peninsula that runs entirely on solar energy
Julia and her husband Jordy, 30, started thinking about making a sustainable, compostable product two years ago.
“We tried our best to live a sustainable life and make the best choices at work when we ordered products, but were discouraged when it arrived packed in massive amounts of plastic,” she said.
They realized the technology was there to make an eco-friendly option, but the dots weren’t connected yet.
So they started connecting them themselves.
“We didn’t want to leave the plastic problem to our children, to the next generation, so we’re tackling it,” she said.
The couple stopped working in early 2020, spoke to experts and developed a fully compostable product that does not leave any nasty microplastics behind.
“There were some challenging moments, but the moment we pushed the idea out, we found a great team of people to support us,” said Julia.
The couple fulfilled the first 2,000 orders that poured in after opening their sale
The plastic is made from potato waste imported from the US – they hope to develop a similar product with Australian fruit waste soon
Now they have 15 staff members, a solar-powered factory on the Mornington Peninsula, and big plans to tackle the most destructive plastic-based products one by one.
Their first product to hit the market was Great Wrap, which was officially launched in April, they made just over 500,000 yards of the plastic alternative.
‘We made all of these sales organically, only advertising on our own Instagram and Facebook, so it’s good to see how well it was received,’ said Julia.
This is the second plastic wrap they have launched, the first was made with ‘an inferior formula’ in a foreign factory. They sold out $ 100,000 worth of stock in less than a month.
The couple has made more than 500,000 meters of the potato packaging so far
‘It proves to us that people want this, they are looking for it.’
The product feels and works ‘just like cling film’ but breaks down in nature in less than 18 days.
The next product is the stretch wrap – which must be certified to demonstrate that it can handle heavy loads without breaking.
This is also made from potato waste.
“Every year more than 150,000 tons of plastic wrap goes to landfill, everything you see in the supermarket came on a plastic-wrapped pallet,” said Julia.
Plastic-wrapped pallets were the reason the couple started the business, but coming up with a marketable product is more complicated than kitchen wrap.
Now they have a machine capable of making the pallet wrap, which consists of five layers of their potato-based material and ‘wafer reinforcement’ to give it the strength to keep the stock safe.
The couple are currently importing the potato waste product from the US, but are excited to partner with Monash University to find a fruit-based alternative.
“We didn’t want to leave our mess for our kids, the next generation, to clean up,” said Julia
‘We are currently working with two research fellows on a new formula,’ said Julia.
This means the couple can offer Great Wrap for the same price as regular petroleum-based plastic wrap, making it as accessible as possible.
It also means that Australian companies, such as large wine companies or fruit juice producers, can send their waste elsewhere than to a landfill.
“The companies are excited, right now we spoke to a big company to sell their waste to pig farmers for $ 20 a truck because it’s the only choice other than landfill,” she said.
‘We hope to partner with compost facilities so that we can collect our wrap from the companies that use it and close the circle.’
The husband and wife team quit their jobs, hers as an architect, his as a winemaker, to solve the plastic problem after seeing too many plastic-wrapped deliveries
Right now, the couple works together at the factory all day and then talks about their business when they get home.
“This company is our baby, we are so excited about it,” she said.
But they’ve gotten a few 24-hour bans from talking about their plastic-free packaging.
“It was really nice just to go for a walk or something and not talk about it,” she said.
They are grateful that their past careers gave them the knowledge and skills to solve the plastic problem – and hope to keep working on it step by step.