The global war on plastic continues and two people in Malta have chosen reusable vegetable bags as their weapon of choice. Amy Sargent from Pembroke and Reuben Spiteri, the brains behind VECO, picked up the top prize in the business category for Wasteserv’s Waste Reduction Awards on Thursday. Judges were impressed with the couple’s initiative as well as their passion for the environment.
“We produce vegetable bags that are made from 100 per cent recycled plastic and can be used over and over again,” says Amy. “We came up with the idea when we were in a supermarket last June and saw just how many plastic bags were being handed-out and would more than likely only be used once.”
“I remember as a child people complaining about having to pay for plastic bags at supermarkets, but then that idea seemed to go away, and the situation got even worse here. It works in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand so I have no idea why it shouldn’t work in Malta too.”
Amy and Reuben set up VECO in September and already have several awards under their belt, including JCI’s ‘Friendliest Business’. “We write a small note on recycled card to every single person who orders online because the support means the world to us!”
And that sunny disposition is even more impressive when you realise that both work full-time jobs – Amy in marketing and Reuben in iGaming. “We usually get home around 5pm and start working at 6pm until around 1am on VECO. We try and take Sundays off to rest and have some time together, but we are very happy with its success and how our side business has taken off.”
“We now supply to 10 supermarkets in Malta and Gozo and get orders online from businesses abroad, mainly in the UK. Here in Malta we’re also involved in projects such as the Eco Market.”
The winning mesh bags are very light and can hold up to two kilos of fruit, vegetables, nuts and can be fastened with a drawstring and toggle. “They are made from 100 per cent RPET material,” continues Amy. “They are made from recycled bottles and other plastic, so we’re not only saving plastic bags from going to landfill, but we’re using plastic that already exists, so it doesn’t end up there either.”
The white bags retail at €1.65 for one bag or €7.95 for five and can be shipped for free in Malta.
And Amy and Reuben have another product in the pipeline. “Ruben likes to run but struggles to find nice running t-shirts. So, we’ve come up with a design with material that’s made from bamboo.”
As part of their prize the couple were given a voucher for a team-building event. “We thought this was ironic since we spend all of our time together already," laughs Amy. “We’ll probably treat our family to a day out since they have been so helpful and supportive.”