ThePackHub Interviews Peggy Cross, Founder / CEO of EcoTensil on Innovative New Packaging Projects in the Works
On January, 2021 Paul Jenkins of ThePackHub interviewed EcoTensil CEO and Founder, Peggy Cross.
In this twenty minute interview, Peggy talks about EcoTensil's range of sustainable utensils designed as an alternative to disposable plastic cutlery.
Some of the highlights from Paul's chat with Peggy over Zoom include the rollout this month of the game changing new line of plastic-free AquaDot utensils to address the EU ban on single-use plastic cutlery.
Some of the highlights from Paul Jenkins' discussion with EcoTensil CEO and Founder, Peggy Cross.
Paul Jenkins (interviewer): You mentioned Switzerland, tell me a little more about your European expansion journey.
Peggy Cross: We were already selling in Europe through a couple of EcoTensil distributors, such a eGreen in the UK. Then when the single-use plastics ban came into existence we knew we had to offer our paper utensil and packaging products to this audience because it’s a perfect, perfect solution. Therefore, we really started to focus on expanding our operations throughout Europe and the UK. So, we now have a shipping warehouse based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, a dedicated sales team throughout Europe, and have brought on more EcoTenail distributors.
European food manufactures can work with us and order direct for custom products, and we can cost effectively ship our products in bulk to Europe from our facility in Missouri, USA. We also ship from our warehouse/distribution center in the Netherlands.
Paul Jenkins (interviewer): Who might your typical EcoTensil customers be? You’ve already shared some examples of some of the products but quite a varied selection, yes?
Peggy Cross: Absolutely. We have been selling the EcoSpoon 5 which is a little bit longer - about 5 inches (hence it’s name) - and it’s great for foodservice, including retailers, facilities, hospitals, etc. Particularly with COVID, we have really seen an uptick with disposable utensils, where disposable utensils are now being needed in hospitals, schools, etc., yet plastic is not an option and some people don’t like wooden utensils. Sampling / tasting utensils (GreenDot EcoTensil) were huge for EcoTensil in the US. Of course, that’s now fallen off a bit due to COVID but we were lucky in that we were already planning a shirt to focus more on food packaging in Europe. Yes, so our timing was ideal for us (EcoTensil). Packaging is a big area for us and there’s clearly an urgent need for plastic-free cutlery due to the upcoming Single-use Plastics Directive in 2021.
Currently, the big question is how are you going to fit a wooden spoon in this tiny space on a single-serve pot (Peggy is holding up a PET single-serve pot from Tara+ packaging based in Switzerland). We make an EcoSpoon 3 which is a paper spoon which can go directly underneath an overcap (Peggy is holding up a topcup with an overcap and an EcoSpoon 3 laying flat on top of the paperboard overcap).
EcoTensil can go right inside (into) a top cup with granola, musli or other toppings and it’s just a perfect solution to replace the folded single-use plastic wrapped spoon that we see today and for so many issues with plastic packaging. I think that this is one of our “hotter” opportunities. Our EcoSpoon works with so many different
Also, airlines are developing products that go go on airlines that are sanitarily wrapped. We make paper spoon dispensers that can dispense the product in a safe and sanitary way without needing the plastic wrap. Now, of course the plastic wrap (over the spoon) is not part of the Single-use Plastics Ban - it’s only the plastic utensil - but still, who actually wants a plastic wrap? Consumers want less plastic and that’s where EcoTensil has great opportunities.
We also are developing opportunities in tandem with the whole COVID issue whereby EcoTensil utensils are the best option for hygienic dispensing in a number of ways for foodservice.
Paul Jenkins (interviewer): Excellent. Your enthusiasm and passion for all things EcoTensil is really coming through. Finally, what’s next for EcoTensil? What’s on the development table and coming forward?
Peggy Cross: Oh gosh, I could go on about that, Paul. Suffice it to say we have options, particularly in (food) packaging because packaging is so diverse - including the needs - and our cutlery is so versatile. We have a box that we are looking at where the paper board utensil is actually manufactured in tandem with the food box. The paper utensil is tucked under the box so the consumer just tears it off which is great for airlines, food retailers, etc.
We are are very excited right now about the launch of our new AquaDot range of cutlery (Peggy holds up an AquaDot EcoSpoon 4 paper-free spoon) it’s our third material we are rolling out. We now offer a range of three materials. GreenDot line which is fully compostable and recyclable. And BlueDot line, which does have a thin poly coating on it so we are phasing this line out in Europe and replacing it with the plastic-free, compostable, recyclable longer-lasting AquaDot line. The AquaDot paperboard is completely food grade, completely compostable and plastic free. AquaDot paperboard is actually made by a company in the UK and we are very excited having this completely plastic-free and longer-lasting line of paperboard that we are going be applying to all of our products.
Our team loves to problem solve with packaging people and come up with solutions. Here’s an ice cream lid for example (Peggy holds up a paperboard ice cream lid which a small plastic spoon inside the lid and a rig which holds the plastic spoon in place) which we can just snap a paper board iScoop EcoTensil in there and do away with the tiny plastic spoon and ring.
Here’s another product of ours that we’ve actually run already for a customer. It’s called a PopOut and it’s replacing the tab lid on the ice cream lid (Peggy holds up a paperboard ice cream cup with a PopOut as the spoon lid and shows how the PopOut iScoop spoon just peels away from the film). The film can be printed on with customer branding and you simply peel away the spoon which is sturdy enough for scooping ice cream and other frozen desserts. You can see this is our iScoop (Peggy holds up an iScoop paper board spoon) which has been specifically designed for ice cream/gelato and is extremely sturdy for scooping and cutting ice cream.
We also have something for a roll top paper lid used for salads, soups, or what have you. Our products pops out of the lid (Peggy is holding up a roll top paper lid to show how the EcoSpoon can pop out of the lid) and you can see the die cut right there and also the steam holes for steam release. I could keep going because there are so many exciting innovations in the process!
Just come to us (EcoTensil) if you have a challenge with a utensil for packaging. We have a talented packaging design team to help solve problems and come up with sustainable plastic-free solutions. I’d much rather be doing this than coming up with pricing sheets and other things. (laughter)
Paul Jenkins (interviewer): What’s the best way for people to contact you (EcoTensil)?
PC: Contacts us via the web is the best way. We have a dedicated European website: www.ecotensil.eu or you can email us: info@EcoTensil.com