Wax-coated food wraps Keeping plastic waste under wraps

Wrappa food wraps
© Wrappa

Pretty and practical: waxed food wraps have undergone a modern reinvention in the hopes of reducing use of plastics and decreasing domestic waste.

Cheryl Sanders, owner of South Australian company Wrappa® Reusable Food Wraps, came across the idea of waxed food wraps while on a quest to replace cling wrap and zip-lock bags at home. During her research, she noticed a gap in the market. "There were mentions of making plant based wax wraps, with suggestions of what could be used, but from what we could see, no one was actually making them and providing the vegan community with a plastic alternative." Cheryl decided to fill that gap and says business has since taken off.

The trend towards domestic sustainability

As the war on waste gains traction in Australia, large corporations are becoming increasingly attentive towards their environmental impact, plunging both time and money into sustainability. Meanwhile, a wave of smaller companies are emerging that are focused on providing sustainable initiatives for households.

In 2014 and 2015, Australians discarded 2.5 million tonnes of plastics, or 107 kilograms per capita. As recognition of this issue grows, so does the market for sustainable, environmentally-conscious goods and services. The uptake of reusable and biodegradable bags has been positive, as consumers voice support for ‘green’ companies and look to reduce their own carbon footprint, and in recent months, large-chain supermarkets have followed in the footsteps of other developed countries by publicly committing to ceasing supply of single-use plastic shopping bags in Australia by mid-2018, while the Australian states of Western Australia and Queensland will ban single-use plastic bags state-wide from July 2018.

Australian households are also seeking out ways to foster an environmentally-conscious style of living, with both older and younger generations striving to limit food wastage, and avoid purchasing items that are disposable or have excess packaging.

Wax-coated food wraps

In response to community demand, industry has been driven to produce enduring, eco-friendly products for those looking to ditch the plastic. The biodegradable, wax-coated food wrap, is one such idea which has recently undergone a modern reinvention. The wraps offer a simplistic and effective way of preserving food and reducing domestic waste.

Waxed wraps come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are produced by coating light cotton sheets in a film of beeswax, or plant waxes, to form a waterproof barrier. They protect food from moisture to keep it fresh, and possess natural antibacterial properties due to the addition of essential oils. Using a wrap is as simple as replacing cling wrap or sandwich bags, and securing with an elastic band where needed. They are a versatile addition to the kitchen drawer and lunchbox, but are not a modern discovery.

Dating back as far as the seventh century BC, the Egyptians tended to domesticate bee hives, from which they harvested both honey and wax. One use of the beeswax was to produce waxed cloths which were used for food preservation. Given the Egyptians’ renowned expertise in the embalming of mummies, it is hardly a surprise to learn of their deployment of similar preservation techniques in the domestic setting.

Reusable food wraps in pretty designs. Reusable food wraps in pretty designs. | © Wrappa Cheryl notes that Wrappa®, which produces both beeswax and plant-based vegan wraps, is one of many companies around the country. She believes Australians are eager to adopt ideas on sustainability.  ‘‘The move from using single use plastics to using a reusable wrap is a very smooth and easy transition for most. The wraps are very popular in Europe and more and more people are using them in Asia now […] I (also) think Australians are very open to change and development.”

The eye-catching designs can be re-used after a quick rinse with detergent and cool water, meaning they’re more economical than plastics in the long-term. When they have reached the end of their lifespan, they can be thrown in the compost to biodegrade rather than adding to the garbage pile.

Reusable products to reduce domestic waste

As recently as 2013, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that Australia’s per capita waste generated was 606 kilograms – greater than in comparable developed nations such as Germany, England and Canada. Furthermore, the percentage of household waste diverted to landfill is close to 50 percent which is higher than the proportion of commercial and industrial waste. In other words: household choices can have a large impact.

Cheryl encourages use of any alternative that is designed to last and can replace use of plastics and disposable products. "Don't try to be perfect. Try to make one small change at a time and transform your home into a minimal plastic use environment. Try and choose things like coffee cups, cloth sanitary items, food storage [...] things that can be washed and reused rather than thrown away after one use."

Reusable food wraps in pretty designs. © Wrappa A quick search of the internet reveals strong competition for waxed wraps and other reusable products. In addition, there are dozens of ‘do-it-yourself ‘articles and videos.

Cheryl is enthusiastic about Australia’s sustainable future, and believes that demand for reusable food wraps is representative of the nation’s green-living sentiments. "I would love to see items like these in every supermarket around the country. Reusable products need to be the norm […] in mainstream stores. We need to reach for a reusable item instead of reaching for a disposable."