Julia Kay, former architect and co-founder of Great Wrap, has been named Young Victorian of the Year by the Victoria Day Council.
The award celebrates inspiring 16 to 30 years olds who have accomplished great things in all walks of life, and is awarded in Melbourne by the Victoria Day Council as part of Victoria Day celebrations on 1 July annually.
"I couldn't be more honoured to be recognised as Young Victorian of the Year. This is a testament to the importance of climate positive businesses and the rise of female founders stepping into advanced manufacturing. I'm thrilled at the opportunity to share all of the hard work we've been doing at Great Wrap and the incredible growth we've seen over the past few years," said Kay.
Kay says that from a young age she was drawn to all things material and design, which lead to a career in architecture. Over the past decade, she worked in the achitecture industry where her experience took her throughout Australia and Europe, designing local galleries through to schools.
Kay says that working in the construction industry was a real eye-opener opener as she saw copious amounts of waste with no clear solution in sight. For someone who grew up caring deeply for the landscape around her, this was a disturbing sight – she couldn’t believe the amount of waste the everyday business was churning through and knew something needed to be done.
"It didn’t take much time to discover that in Australia alone we send 150,000 tonnes of stretch wrap to landfills every year and that unfortunately there wasn’t a solution to the problem," said Kay.
With this in mind, in 2019, she co-founded Great Wrap with her husband Jordy Kay, a startup that "set out to design its way out of the current plastics pandemic we live in through material innovation".
"We saw a materials revolution happening around us. Everything was changing rapidly; energy, transport, and agriculture, yet plastic stayed the same. We knew the technology existed to put an end to plastic waste but there weren’t any products available on the market for us to use. That’s when Great Wrap was born. We invented the products we knew the world was missing so we can dump plastic once and for all," she said, explaining that the company is driven by impact, fuelled by demand, and "have a 10-year vision for a world where plastic doesn’t exist".
Since the launch, Great Wrap has gone through significant growth and operates from its local factories on the Mornington Peninsula and Tullamarine. The company manufactures compostable cling wrap for homes and businesses, including home cling wrap, catering wrap, pallet wrap, and pallet caps, and is on a mission to remove the 150,000 tonnes of plastic stretch wrap sent to Australia’s landfills each year.
In February, the company received a grant of more than $500,000 which is going towards the commercialisation and manufacturing of the company’s certified compostable stretch wrap at a national scale. The grant was acquired in the recent funding round of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre’s (AMGC) $30 million Commercialisation Fund.
Dr Anthony Cree, CEO & founder, Aboriginal Literacy, who, in 2003 was awarded the Order of Australia (OAM) for his outstanding work with the Victoria Day Council, and the advancement of Victoria, said: "It’s people like Julia who represent the changing pace of a modern Victoria, a female working in manufacturing, who develops innovative products to address issues related to climate change and sustainability. In turn, having a positive social impact which benefits us all."
The next decade for Kay is expected to be driven by the impact her business has on the planet and on generations to come.