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Alex Magaraggia and James Calver, founder, Ecoware

Ecoware: Saving the World One Package at a Time

There is a rule of nature, ‘What comes from the earth goes back to the earth.’ Mother earth—encompassing every living and non-living thing—functions on this principle. She creates life and consumes it too. But one thing that the earth can’t consume is plastic – the human invention that is changing the biological balance of the earth.
From a plastic cup to food packaging, everything is plastic, and unfortunately, most of it is non-degradable. Hence, it is essential to reduce the plastic usage for a sustainable future.
This necessity led to the rise of eco-friendly product companies which offer alternatives for the plastic products. One of the leading names in that list is Ecoware, which provides sustainable plant-based food and beverage packaging solutions that are affordable and superior in quality.
The Success Story
A decade ago, Alex Magaraggia and James Calver two young entrepreneurs commenced on a journey by founding Ecoware – a dynamic and innovative packaging brand that is purpose lead.
“We are on a mission to change the way the world views packaging by removing virgin plastics from supply chains and reducing waste to landfill. We have done this by using the world’s most innovative plant-based raw materials, to design and develop elegant, low emission packaging that is designed to be composted post-consumer use.”
Being first to market, some 11-12 years back with advanced raw material technology that challenged the well-established plastic industry was by no means a small task for the co-founders.
Alex and James, with a small team around them, spent years knocking on doors explaining to prospects that this was indeed the future of the industry. They were laughed out of board rooms, told to ‘get real’ and more importantly said ‘NO’, for the first five or so years.
It was a challenging task for the co-founders. They viewed No as YES, so they kept turning up and refining their product and brand. It took approximately five years for the tide to turn, and then, it was only forward. Ecoware went from only certified compostable hot cups and lids, to having a comprehensive range using a handful of different certified raw materials.
Ecoware now has over 500 SKU’s and provides an environmental solution for any takeaway (food and beverage) environment. Its range enables the clients to make their customers proud. “It’s not just the packaging that the clients change, it’s their full brand story and their marketing strategy – after all, sustainability is now ingrained in every corporate decision moving forward,” the co-founders expressed.
The past couple of years have seen exponential growth and a shift of attention towards a global market – Ecoware believes that its brand and product offering should and will be recognized as a true global leader in the years to come. The company’s products are currently available in 12+ countries. It has some exciting projects that will be deployed in 2022 to target global growth.
Going Green Through Technology
Alex and James were keen on using the technology to embrace the way in which the business can be approached. Having a mutual understanding, they thought instead of thinking, lets hire another person to implement technology and systems. Every company in today’s climate should be at a minimum investing of $1 in technology, for every $1 they invest in people. “It’s what we believe is required to remain competitive, and more importantly become more efficient at a lower cost,” said James.
Green industry is yet to be completely disrupted by AI, but it can play a crucial role in near future. The duo is of the opinion that if they can teach their staff to think this way, they can have a very powerful offering moving into the next decade as real opportunities start to present themselves as the market matures.
Facing the Pandemic
There is a famous quote in business world, “expect the unexpected.” That said, the unexpected continues to develop and the challenges one would never dream about continue to press companies globally. Keeping this in mind, problems can also be viewed as opportunities – and that is the way the duo view problems at Ecoware.
What is the opportunity of solving this problem? There is no one denying the fact that global supply chain is under serious and real cost and delivery pressure. Ecoware was no exception to this. Throughout the past 18 months, the company has been hit with global sea freights increasing over 500%, along with delay and missed connections.
James said, “It is essential as a leader during times like this, you put yourself in your customers shoes – when you do, you realize that customers are your number one priority. We have done everything we can, sacrificing profits to put people first.” He believes that when the pandemic will come to an end, Ecoware will be somewhat more future proofed.
Envisaging a Green Future
While Ecoware services over 4000+ domestic customers and have replaced approximately 1.4 billion units with low emission, sustainable solutions in NZ, in the upcoming years, the company is looking at the globe for expansion. “We will continue to grow our global territories that we currently operate both organically as the world craves sustainable solutions, and also with some investment into those countries that are already taking off,” explained James.
Having done extensive market research with the third party govt assistance, team Ecoware is focused on the North American and the European markets as key growth areas. In the world that is moving and changing rapidly, innovation is the catalyst to growth.
Ecoware’s growth strategy will be continuous development and deployment of unique and specialized compostable food packaging being brought to market. “There is no such thing as finished, or standing still, one must keep moving and moving because the best is yet to come!” says the leadership team.