Executive Director of local ice cream manufacturer BICO Limited Edwin Thirwell is reporting that the reference by some people to inferior biodegradable products, had initially taken a bite out of his business, Vegware.
However, Thirwell told Barbados TODAY that part of the operation had turned around with BICO now witnessing favourable sales in recent times.
Almost four years ago BICO started to offer an alternative to styrofoam and polystyrene cutlery and food containers with the aim of helping to address the garbage problem facing Barbados.
In February 2012 the company introduced eco-friendly products from the UK-based company Vegware.
BICO Ltd had also introduced the Eco-Pak brand earlier this year, offering more affordable biodegradable products, compared to that of Vegware.
After a delay to allow for the sale of styrofoam and polystyrene products already imported, Government’s ban on those products took effect on August 1, 2019.
With BICO being well ahead of the curve with its Vegware products, Executive Chairman Edwin Thirwell told Barbados TODAY the ban had affected his company in a positive way.
“We were ready to take up the slack. We were the alternative,” said Thirlwell.
“We have seen a tremendous increase in that because we were there before people knew what it was. We were there ready with all the products and there was some forward thinking businesses out there that were using Vegware before it was necessary,” he said.
He said prior to investigations by the Barbados National Standard Institution (BNSI) and the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce earlier this year, the sale of the Vegware products had taken a hit before bouncing back.
“Fortunately, now the Minister has stepped in and you can’t bring substandard products in . . . The fact is, we suffered from the fact that people called everything Vegware or Eco-Pak when it isn’t. If it goes wrong they say ‘this is Vegware and it is leaking’. But no, it is not, it never was in the first place,” said Thirlwell.
Since the ban on styrofoam, a number of people have also been complaining about the cost, but Thirwell said that was not the case now since the market had become more competitive and he was able to lower the prices on the Vegware products though they remained one of the more costly.
“The fact is, you get what you pay for,” he said.
Before the end of the year, the company is expected to introduce a “compostable on wheels” van that would be selling the items, said Thirlwell, as he declared, “we realized there was a need for it”.
“So in fact,we are ahead of the curve,” he added.