CEO of the Year Awards 2023

SME News- CEO of the Year Awards 2023 | 6 An industry-leading business in eco-friendly packaging and tableware, eGreen International Limited has been operating since 1947, and in recent years has doubled down on its commitment to sustainable practice and the environment, pioneering a new and groundbreaking product range that emphasises the importance of recycling and the circular economy. Initially founded by entrepreneur David Green more than 75 years ago, the company got its start selling confectionary and catering accessories. Before long, his daughter, Eileen Wiggins, joined in, designing and manufacturing tableware for the business. Now onto its third generation family owner, CEO and awardee Caroline Wiggins, Caroline is leveraging this strong heritage and combining it with her own entrepreneurial flair. We catch up with Caroline to learn more about the company. With high-profile, blue-chip customers spanning a multitude of sectors from high street retailers and contract caterers to fast food operators and restaurant chains, eGreen’s presence across the UK and Europe is distinctive. Following in the footsteps of her grandfather, Caroline is continuing to innovate in the sector, spearheading such recent innovations as the company’s line of “SelfDestruct Tumblers”, which are already being used in stadiums and events that are held all over the world. Leveraging its unique, patented technology, if these cups escape the recycling stream, they have the power to bio transform within our atmosphere, leaving behind no trace and no harmful elements. This is just the beginning, and the introduction of a new, raw material that is soon to be utilised in the cups will serve as a world first, as it is made 100% from recycled plant oil. Free of fossil fuel, carbon neutral, and fully recyclable, eGreen’s new VeriGreen line, launching in March, will put Caroline into a very small category of entrepreneurs whose products attain a wide range of eco credentials and can assist clients in smashing net zero targets, while offering consumers a product that is robust, practical, and performs well. Innovation in this area is being seen in other ways as well, and other products pioneered by eGreen include trays made from recycled marine plastic, paper straws, and 100% plant fibre-based cutlery. Through just this small snapshot, it is easy to understand the ways in which eGreen is truly changing the game, and this is something that begins right at the top, with Caroline’s hands- on approach to the business. Across her CEO duties, Caroline remains approachable, fair, and hard-working. She states, “having a family heritage, everyone within the team is valued and has their unique and individual role to play. We succeed as a team; nobody can deliver success on their own.” Never one to back down from her own responsibilities, Caroline has each department head report directly to her, and she takes a particular interest in the company’s design and marketing strategy. Caroline’s business management style can thus be defined using two key terms, open and entrepreneurial. Such traits have proven instrumental in keeping the business thriving in these most uncertain times, with huge challenges such as Brexit, Covid-19, and global conflicts having to be managed and overcome. During the pandemic, the team made the most of the hospitality sector being closed, instead manufacturing PPE (with an impressive 68 products launched in just an 8-week turnaround) to keep the business afloat with a new customer base. As Caroline notes, “the speed and skills we acquired during this period, will be fundamental to the changes that will come towards us as the environmental agenda gathers pace.” Another invaluable factor in Caroline’s success has been her mother, who was a strong Caroline Wiggins: EcoFriendly Packaging CEO of the Year – UK