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Aussie couple reveal how they developed cling wrap made from potatoes

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A young Australian couple has thrown in their day jobs as an architect and winemaker to tackle 'the plastic problem' after being disheartened by the sheer amount of waste in their industries.

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Julia and Jordy Kay are producing the world's first compostable cling wrap and pallet wrap which is made out of potato waste.

The Melbourne couple sold more than $30,000 of 'Great Wrap' in their first week. 

Julia, 28, said they couldn't make Great Wrap 'fast enough'. 

'The guys at the factory are under the pump.

'We're proud to have converted 2000 homes from using plastic wrap,' she said of the first rush of online orders.

The wrap costs $14.95 for two 30m rolls. 

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Julia and her husband Jordy, 30, started thinking about making a sustainable, compostable product two years ago.

'We were doing our best to live sustainable lives and make the best choices at work when we ordered products, only to be disheartened when it arrived wrapped in huge amounts of plastic,' she said. 

They realised the technology was out there to make an environmentally friendly option - but the dots hadn't been connected yet.

So they set about connecting them on their own.

'We didn't want to leave the plastic problem to our children, to the next generation, so we are tackling it,' she said.

The couple quit their jobs at the beginning of 2020, spoke to experts, and developed a fully compostable product that doesn't leave any nasty microplastics behind. 

'There have been some challenging moments, but the minute we put the idea out their we found a great team of people cheering us on,' Julia said. 

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Now they have 15 staff, a solar-powered factory on the Mornington Peninsula, and big plans to tackle the most destructive plastic-based products one at a time.

Their first product to go on the market was Great Wrap which was officially launched in April, they have made just over 500,000 metres of the plastic alternative.

'We have made all of these sales organically, just advertising on our own Instagram and Facebook, so it is good to see how well it has been received,' Julia said.

This is the second plastic wrap they have launched, the first was with 'an inferior formula' made in a foreign factory. They sold out of $100,000 of stock in less than a month.

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It proves to us that people want this, they have been looking for it.' 

The product feels and works 'exactly like cling wrap' but it breaks down in nature in less than 18 days. 

The next product will be the pallet wrap - which has to be certified to show it can handle heavy loads without breaking.

This will be made from the potato waste as well.

'More than 150,000 tonnes of plastic wrap goes to landfill every year, everything you see at the supermarket came on a pallet wrapped in plastic,' Julia said.

Plastic-wrapped pallets were the reason the couple started the company - but coming up with a saleable product is more complicated than kitchen wrap.

Now they have a machine capable of making the pallet wrap which consists of five layers of their potato-based material and 'waffle reinforcement' to give it the strength to keep stock safe.

The couple currently imports the potato waste product from the US but are excited to be working with Monash University to find a fruit-based alternative.

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'We are working with two research fellows on a new formula as we speak,' Julia said.

This will mean the couple will be able to offer Great Wrap at the same price point as regular petroleum-based cling films, making it as accessible as possible.

It will also mean Australian companies, like large wine companies or fruit juice makers, will be able to send their waste somewhere other than landfill.

'The companies are stoked, at the moment one big company we have been speaking to sell their waste to pig farmers for $20 a truck because it is the only choice other than a landfill,' she said.

'We are hoping to team up with compost facilities so we can collect our wrap from the companies who use it and take it full circle.' 

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At the moment the couple works together all day at the factory and then talk about their business when they get home.

'This business is our baby, we are so excited about it,' she said.

But they have had a few 24-hour bans on talking about their plastic-free wrap.

'It has been really nice to just go hiking or something and not talk about it,' she said.

They are thankful their former careers have given them to knowledge and skills to help solve the plastic problem - and hope to keep working on it one step at a time.

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