How The Beeswax Wrap Co. operates a sustainable business
Based in the Cotswolds it produces organic cotton coverings, in pre-cut packs (from £12), rolls, and bags infused with wax from local hives and plant resin.
Food too keeps fresh for a long time, making the bags a popular option for fresh produce such as salad leaves and bread, while a re-waxing bar can extend the products’ life cycle for up to six years and the company also offers a re-waxing service.
“We look to provide things people really need,” explains founder and sales expert Fran Beer.
Those credentials have already led to partnerships with classic British homeware brands such as Cath Kidston and Emma Bridgewater as well the company becoming a supplier to Liberty, The National Trust and Oxfam.
Now next month the business, which has top social purpose B Corps approval, will launch a new range featuring the official limited edition Jubilee design.
Queen bee: Beeswax Wrap co founder Frand Beer
Created for the Royal Family’s art collection The Royal Collection Trust, the wraps will go on sale at selected grand locations such as Buckingham Palace as well as the Collection’s online store.
“Our aim is to reduce plastic and waste through simple swaps in the kitchen. This new partnership is a huge moment for the company, we are the first and only one supplying the Collection with beeswax wraps,” says Beer.
“We hope they will play a part in showing more people that they can make simple and beautiful choices for everyday products.”
Five years on from start-up, the business is looking for up to a £1.5 million turnover in 2024 after tough times during Covid and an increasing challenge from bigger companies jumping, sometimes questionably, on the eco bandwagon.
The bees knees: beeswax wraps keep food fresh for a long time
A move to a bigger, solar-powered workshop, holding larger stock reserves and strong earnings before lockdown have helped Beeswax Wrap recover its buzz however.
“Thanks to those cushions, during the pandemic we did some intensive restructuring, re-thinking our space and processes, streamlining production and tighter planning ahead,” says Beer.
“That’s led to a 30 per cent increase in productivity and helped as our costs have doubled and shipping has tripled.”
“Our team is now six and there is a lot of focus on staff training, we’re a living wage employer and keep to our principles.”
“We put a lot into sourcing and keeping a low carbon footprint, using low impact dyes and organic suppliers. Our aim is to achieve net-zero by 2030.”
“Our new products for example include blocks of natural soaps and scrubbers made from dried courgettes.”
“On the waste front we are now looking to collaborate with companies making bedding products for example, so we can re-purpose their cloth off-cuts.”
“Our wraps are packaged in fully recycled sleeves with carbon balanced printing, and we use paper tape and plastic-free packaging to post out our wraps.”
The business’s demand for beeswax has proved a boost for local beekeepers, giving them a second revenue stream after honey for something they could not sell before.
“However bigger companies’ greenwashing with cheaper product options is putting the squeeze on smaller, truly sustainable businesses like ours,” Beer points out.”
The self-funded company is now planning an external raise of up to £200,000, possibly through crowdfunding within the next 12 months to increase social media marketing and trade show appearances.
While the company’s products would seem a perfect fit with hospitality and foodservice businesses, beeswax wraps would require food safety certification and that does not exist so far leaving a glaring gap only officials can fix.
Re-wax: wraps can last for six year with rewaxing
Just as transformative for the company would be increased listings with wholesalers and a major supermarket chain.
“Most homes have a roll of plastic wrapping so we have so much potential,” says Beer. “Slow and steady wins the race we hope and that more customers realise that a thoughtful purchase is a choice well made.”
Beeswax wraps – how to tell they are delivering real value not ‘greenwashing’
Beeswax wraps should self-seal, any wrap that comes with string or does not seal easily using the heat of your hand is no good
Look for wraps with pinked (zigzag) edges, this ensures that the wraps do not fray at the edges, so no regular trimming to tidy them up.
When you wash your wrap the coating should not crack or flake off, a well-made beeswax wrap should easily last 9-12 months before you need to re-wax to last another year.
Look for businesses that sell wax bars that enable you to re-wax your wraps after a year or offer a re-waxing service. Beeswax Wraps will last at least 6 years if you top up the wax coating each year.
Look for wraps made of GOTS certified organic cotton.
You are buying a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic so you want to know that the raw materials going into making the wraps are good quality and low impact on the environment too.
Non-organic cotton production uses lots of hazardous pesticides and fertilisers that pollute the local water supply and for growing can also use up to 90 per cent more water.
Look for locally made wraps using UK beeswax, this means a low carbon footprint for the production and delivery of the wrap.