Follow the Green Duck

A local supplier of compostable and biodegradable food packaging becomes a big game-changer on the Richmond business scene.

There are companies in this town that simply provide a product… and then there companies that provide a product that changes how people shop. One of those companies is Green Duck, a socially conscious (and Richmond-born) business that supplies local restaurants, cafés, and businesses with compostable and biodegradable food packaging products. Now, you might not have heard of them yet, but if you’ve recently eaten at the Urban Farmhouse, Savor Cafe, or Globehopper Coffee House, you probably have been using food packaging supplied by Green Duck.

While Green Duck is a small company in size, its mission to reduce waste by educating consumers about natural, earth-friendly products made from plants is a big game-changer on the Richmond business scene.When asked why compostable and biodegradable food packaging is so important, Jocelyn Tice (the company’s founder) told the story of how she came up with the idea for Green Duck.

After eating leftovers a few years ago, Tice began to dispose of the petroleum-based plastic containers from her meal in the recycle bin. She started wondering how many people actually recycle their recyclable containers. After doing some research, Tice discovered that only 1% of plastic is recycled in the US and, in many places, Styrofoam containers cannot be recycled at all. She learned about the alarming waste generated in the US and how packaging made from plants like sugarcane, corn, reed, and potato can help reduce the problem.

Tice soon discovered that this type of packaging was only sold on the west coast of the US. She started Green Duck because she wanted to bring these food packaging products to Richmond and throughout the East coast.

In a short period of time, Green Duck quickly experienced an increase in its client roster as more restaurants locally and nationally learned what the company had to offer. What was once thought to be a Richmond-based company that would serve clients on the east coast, Green Duck turned its attention to serving clients nationwide as the demand grew. Green Duck now has two warehouses: one near the Richmond International Airport and another in Portland, Oregon, giving the company the ability to ship its green friendly plant-based compostable straws, cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, to-go packaging, deli containers, bowls, and lids all over the nation. Being a supplier that only sells compostable and biodegradable food packaging has helped attract clients who want to be as green as possible.

Green Duck notes its national success is a result of their website (, giving customers the ability to shop online. Tice also adds “Richmond is a great place to have a business — we feel we are supported by the local community”.

Educating the local customers about sustainability and managing waste is going to be key to Green Duck’s success long term. Tice hopes the growth of the local green community will make her job a lot easier as many green events, such as Richmond Green Drinks, and green organizations like the James River Green Building Council keep popping up in town. The popularity of the local farmers markets will also bring awareness to green issues. Tice stresses, “People can help Richmond become more green faster by way of their wallets. If customers demand and buy more sustainable products businesses will seek to carry more of those products in their stores and restaurants.”

To learn more about managing waste, people need to understand what is compostable and biodegradable and how it is different from recyclable.  Compostable goods have the ability to dissolve in a managed process, producing compost in about 180 days, whereas biodegradable goods contains substances that can be broken down naturally by microorganisms. Neither of these kinds of goods can be recycled but they take 40% less energy to produce then petroleum-based products. “Compostable and biodegradable items are good products at the start and at the end of their life cycle,” notes Tice.

Recyclable goods are made from petroleum and contain plastic material that can be reused and transformed into different objects multiple times. Tice adds, “Compostable and biodegradable goods can dissolve into the soil while petroleum-based plastic materials will never go away.” She also says that the U.S. should recycle a lot more but argues that composting can become a more popular method to reducing waste. “We just have to wait and see what the future entails.”

For more information on Green Duck, their products, and what they’re doing for our community, stop by

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John ONeill

John O’Neill is an adjunct VCU professor and President of Thinkhaus, a socially conscious graphic design company. He was recently featured as one of Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40.

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