Green glossary for packaging

Confused by bio-based, biodegradable, compostable? Here’s our quick guide to these eco terms:

Vegware’s eco materials

Vegware’s products are made from renewable, lower carbon, recycled or reclaimed materials. All of our materials have one or more of those environmental benefits.

As standard, Vegware’s products are printed with these messages:

  • Packaging made from plants
  • Commercially compostable where accepted

Bio-based | Plant-based | Made from plants

Totally or partly derived from materials of biological origin, like crops, plants or other renewable agricultural, marine or forestry materials. Vegware only uses plant-based materials.

Don’t say biodegradable

Biodegradable means something breaks down naturally, but it can take years. It is a vague term without specifying timescales or the environmental conditions of the product break down. Wood is biodegradable, but a log cabin can stand for generations.

Beware – ‘biodegradable’ is often mis-used to sell oxo-degradable plastic clear cups, cutlery, straws and carrier bags – a pollutant plastic soon to be banned, see below.

Vegware is commercially compostable

Compostable products can break down in industrial composting under 12 weeks. All Vegware packaging is compostable, and independent bodies have certified our products can break down in under 12 weeks in industrial composting facilties.  Our biobags are certified for home composting too.

Commercial composting creates the perfect balance of microbes, moisture and warmth. So instead of being buried or burnt, your compostable catering ‘waste’ creates nutrient-rich compost that helps plants thrive. Discover our expert waste support at

No to degradable | oxo-degradable | oxo-biodegradable

Degradable is a broad, ambiguous term. Oxo-degradable is a modified plastic, that is being banned in Europe. It breaks down into small, unrecyclable, plastic flakes, which can pollute our soils and seas.

Often mis-labelled as ‘biodegradable’ clear cups, cutlery, straws and carrier bags.


A renewable source which can be replenished – like plants which can grow again and again.

Lower carbon

We use plant-based PLA, polylactic acid, for our clear compostable cold cups and the lining of our hot cups and soup containers. Manufacturing plant-based PLA emits less carbon than manufacturing conventional oil-based plastics. For detailed carbon information, see peer-reviewed studies on PLA made by NatureWorks and Corbion.


Made from waste material. Vegware use post-consumer recycled content where we can. For example, our paper bags are made from 100% recycled content.


A by-product from an industrial process. We use reclaimed sugarcane, the dry fibrous residue left once sugarcane has been pressed for juice, in our bagasse tableware and takeaway boxes.