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A Melbourne couple has created Australia’s first biodegradable cling wrap

Photography By Great Wrap
Published 20.06.21

Cling wrap: it’s a quick fix we all love.

Perfect for preserving leftovers in a rush, that half an avo you want to save for breakfast tomorrow, and the recurring problem of twenty Tupperware containers with no lids. But as a plastic, it’s far from convenient for the environment, which is why Jordy and Julia Kay launched a plant-based, home compostable alternative to plastic cling and pallet wrap last year.

Aptly named Great Wrap, the Melbourne-based brand isn’t just focused on replacing the prosaic roll of cling wrap found in nearly every household’s kitchen drawer: they’re planning to revolutionise pallet and commercial wrap in global industries.

It was exposure to plastic in the winemaking industry that first flicked the innovation switch for Jordy. “I was making wine in a certain way and labelling wines and hand waxing them, spending all this energy on beautiful packaging and then having to wrap the pallet up in plastic to send it abroad,” he says.

“Julia – an architect – was equally exposed to plastic: supplies and products would arrive wrapped in single-use plastic. We both love the ocean and hate plastic and so we started to dive deeper into how big the problem is.”

Founders Jordy and Julia Kay

Although plastic stretch wrap technically can be recycled, the Kays discovered it’s rarely returned for reuse; it’s cheaper to use virgin petroleum to make new wrap.

“Everything made for plastic stretch wrap was going to landfill,” Kay says. “In Australia, that’s 150 thousand tonnes of stretch wrap going to landfill.”

There are some cling wrap alternatives on supermarket shelves already, often marketed as biodegradable or “green”. Great Wrap, however, is the only 100% certified compostable product on the market – certified as home compostable by DIN CERTCO in Germany. This means their cling wrap breaks down into carbon and water in your home compost pile in less than 180 days.

“Home and garden compostable products, which is what ours is certified for, means breaking down in your home compost pile,” Kay says. “Whereas industrial composting pile [that some other products are certified as] means temperatures of around 60 degrees…it might actually still sit in landfill for 50 years before it breaks down.”

There is enormous potential for Great Wrap to revolutionise the use of plastic wrapping in wider industries too, especially in light of targets set to ensure all packaging used in Australia is 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

“We’re already working with some huge, iconic Australian companies, [including] supermarkets, mining companies, retail companies and wineries and breweries,” Kay says. “It’s really encouraging because a lot of them aren’t companies you would typically think would care about sustainability.”

Currently, Great Wrap are partnering with Melbourne’s Monash University to design a process to convert food waste into biodegradable and compostable wrap. They’re also looking at ways to solve ocean waste too.

“We started by asking, how can we stop ocean-bound plastic like water bottles and basic food packaging getting into the ocean? Replacing those will be one of the things we’ll look into in the future,” Kay says.

“Part of our vision is to constantly develop and innovate. We want to look at really interesting ways to improve packaging in Australia.” Take note the next time you reach for the cling wrap to cover a bowl, or see a plastic-wrapped pallet of alcohol arriving at your local bottle shop. If the Kays have their way, very soon this plastic will be replaced by compostable alternatives that won’t stick around in landfill for decades to come.

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