The QUO - Salmon wrapped in...wool?
Woolcool uses waste wool to create 100% renewable packaging that outperforms polystyrene.
Salmon wrapped in...wool?

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Salmon wrapped in...wool?

Our Environment
13 June 2018
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In the week before Easter, meal kit company HelloFresh delivered more than half a million meals to Australian consumers. This convenience often comes at a price; these meal kits require a lot of specialized packaging. And that packaging isn’t always very environmentally friendly.

That’s where WoolCool comes in. 

Born eight years ago as the brainchild of Angela Morris, a woman living in rural Shropshire County in the United Kingdom, Woolcool uses sheep wool as packaging insulation. She was talking to sheep farmers about packaging their high-end meat when she thought of the idea. If felted wool could be used as insulation in building, maybe it could be used for food.

Woolcool has been extensively marketed in the UK and other parts of Europe, but just recently entered the Australian market. “Three years ago, we brought the product down under,” says Planet Protector CEO Joanna Howarth. “The focus is its unbelievable green credentials. The product is made 100 percent out of waste wool.”

The waste wool is a byproduct of the wool industry and is generally the wool that comes from the underbelly of the sheep. “There is no demand for waste wool,” Howarth says. “The cost of collecting it is more than you can sell it for.”

Woolcool is also 100 percent renewable because wool is renewable. “The sun shines, the grass grows, the sheep eats the grass and the wool grows,” Howarth says. On the consumer side, because it’s a natural product, Woolcool can be composted, used as mulch, or even used as pet bedding. 

Once the waste wool is collected, it’s scoured using hot water and soap and felted using a felting machine. Once the wool fiber is felted into a sort of blanket, it’s sealed inside a food-grade liner. The specifications of the wool can be customised for each customer, and the liner can be used for marketing, says Howarth.

Planet Ark, a Sydney-based environmental organisation, has partnered with Planet Protector to promote Woolcool and further product development. “The number of home delivery services using unsustainable packaging is a major environmental concern, which is why we proudly endorse the Woolcool product range and are looking forward to seeing it evolve,” said Kristie Baker, Partner Relations Manager at Planet Ark, in a statement.

When used as insulation for meal kits, Woolcool actually outperforms polystyrene, says Howarth. “Clients are looking away from polystyrene,” she says. “This is the first time there has been a viable alternative.”

HelloFresh started using Woolcool in 2016. “When they started to use Woolcool, they doubled their business overnight because of the performance of the Woolcool,” says Howarth. “They were able to deliver to longer distances because of the food safety.” 

Another meal delivery service using Woolcool is Canberra’s Easy Life Meals, which delivers gourmet meals on Sundays. “We have used cooler bags and styrofoam boxes, however we wanted to find a more premium product that fits our brand, is environmentally friendly as well as more reliable,” said Director Hesh Sandi in a statement. “That is when we discovered WoolCool.”

So far, it’s been a hit. “WoolCool has been amazing for our brand, and we have had extremely positive feedback from our customers regarding the quality and benefits associated by using WoolCool,” said Sandi. “It has definitely ticked all the right boxes for us and we will never be going back to styrofoam!”

Howarth estimates that since they started selling Woolcool in 2016, they have removed 15 million polystyrene boxes from the market. The proof is really in the functionality, Howarth says. She heard from a client that they shipped a side of salmon on a 42 degree day in Sydney. After several hours, the dry ice inside the pack was still rock solid. Cold, hard proof. 

Learn more about Woolcool and how your organisation can transition to sustainable packaging.

Abby Callard

About Abby Callard

Abby Callard is an American writer based in Sydney. She has lived and written in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Spain, and India. She’s particularly interested in analysing the food system through a social justice lens and initiatives that make technology easier to access.

More from Abby Callard

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Our Environment
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13th June 2018

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