Mrs Rogers

Good Things Naturally Come in Small Packages

Mrs Rogers Compostable Ad 2


Craig Turner

Craig Turner


University of Otago

University of Otago


Joe Cooper

Joe Cooper

Global Goals

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 14. Life Below Water 15. Life on Land

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Mrs Rogers Herbs & Spices faced a challenge, they were committed to getting their herbs and spices out to the consumer in perfect condition to ensure that all of the natural flavours and aromas remained locked in, but this was only achieved with plastic packaging. With their ethos of being natural and true to the environment, they embarked on an innovation journey to repackage and deliver these small packets of goodness in an environmentally and natural way while retaining their freshness. The result was a 100% natural and home compostable packaging solution, removing over 10 million small single-use plastic waste items from land and water since late 2019.


Between 2012-2013, Bruce, the CEO, started looking for more sustainable alternatives to plastic for their products of dried herbs, spices, and blends. Originally, plastic bags were used for their natural products, as they were the best (or only) way to provide the barrier qualities required to keep out air and humidity and ensure their products and innate essential oils retain quality and flavour for as long as possible. Craig, one of the descendants of Mrs Rogers, described the situation. “Plant-based compostable films were being developed at this time, but nothing was yet capable of providing the required barrier qualities. Some products are also quite aggressive on the packaging (e.g., Turmeric), and testing had to be done to ensure the new packaging material could last beyond the two-year pack life required for supermarkets and work for consumers”. In late 2018, Mrs Rogers partnered with another local business Econic and they began trials, committing thousands of hours to research and development, testing, sourcing, and capital investment (for new packaging machines) to make fundamental changes to the packaging and processes. They were determined to deliver a product that was environmentally and socially responsible while still preserving the flavour and longevity of their product.

Production began, and as of October 2019, Mrs Rogers' bags are no longer made of plastic. These bags are now made of several home compostable films that work together to form a barrier that minimizes moisture and oxygen transfer. Manufactured by Econic, these small bags (currently in the process of being fully certified to European Standards, "OK COMPOST HOME") are plant-based and the film is sustainably sourced from wood pulp and GM-Free corn sources. As the compostable material is more brittle than plastic there was no longer a zip closure, so a team member came up with the idea to provide a small biodegradable, and reusable wooden clip for users to seal the bag. Not satisfied with just the plastic bag replacement, they also sourced and started using unbleached ethically sourced cardboard and printed using soy-based inks. This means that the box remains free from smell contaminants which could affect its recyclability. Such was the thought and attention to detail, every component of the packaging (the bag, the clip, cardboard, and inks) is now plant-based, meaning the packaging is made from materials that can break down under home composting conditions or are recyclable and therefore remain 100% in the biological cycle.

Through advertising and social media providing tips, tricks, and guidelines for DIY home composting, Mrs Rogers encourages and teaches consumers to go natural, compost, reduce waste in the kitchen, and produce food for consumption, naturally.

The Sustainable Development Goal that Mrs Rogers primarily focuses on is Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12) with sustainable reduction of waste generation through prevention, recycling, and reuse in a 100% biological cycle. This also contributes to protecting Life Below Water (SDG 14) and Life on Land (SGD15) from plastic pollution and using only renewable and sustainable materials.

Good Things Naturally Come in Small Packages


The innovation started with the original Mrs Rogers instilling strong beliefs, core family values, a holistic approach and an experimental nature that in turn has become the enduring foundation of the company. As such, when the company first started in 2001, they were one of the earliest retailers to sell a small table grinder filled with pepper to consumers in stores with the idea of grinding peppercorns over food releasing the spice's aroma for a fresh taste compared to stale pepper powder.

The ethos of experimentation, innovation and family values was passed on to the descendants of Mrs Rogers and led to their desire for everything that they delivered to be natural and to provide healthy ways to add taste and flavour to food. In fact, Bruce describes, “I was working in the food industry and had had first-hand experience with the indiscriminate use of chemicals. From this, I developed a lifelong interest in avoiding as much as possible additives and unnatural ways”.

The packaging changes were taken up as a hands-on, innovative long-term project looking for more natural alternatives and once again, looking to set the trend in their product space. As Bruce describes, “Being at the front end of ideas of using natural packaging materials has always been basic to everything we do [where the focus is on] leaving as light a footprint as possible”.

Overall impact

Mrs Rogers' innovative solution being totally plant-based and not requiring the use of non-renewable resources, along with sourcing locally, means it has an overall lower carbon footprint and has been instrumental in realizing one of Mrs Rogers' visions “Growing New Zealand naturally”. Composting causes the elements to decompose completely, leaving nothing behind. There is no energy or emissions required to recycle them (unlike centralised composting facilities requiring transportation).

In landfills, a plastic bag takes up to 1,000 years to break down. Unfortunately, instead of decomposing entirely, the bags photo-degrade, turning into tiny plastic particles that continue to pollute the environment by absorbing toxins and have now entered our food chain. Mrs Rogers' total packaging solution is 100% biodegradable and truly HOME compostable, thus it is fully regenerative within the biological cycle within 180 days and eliminates plastic contamination.

Through social media and advertising, they are motivating consumers to rethink their consumption, empowering them to be mindful of their purchases, and encouraging them to recycle or start composting at home. They're encouraging households to deal with food waste in the most eco-friendly way, reducing reliance on landfills, saving money, and at the same time, the soil created from home compost can also be used in supplying nutrients to grow food in home gardens.

Business benefit

Compostable film is more expensive than plastic film—Mrs Rogers invested a significant amount of time, effort and capital into creating the current packaging solution. Nevertheless, Mrs. Rogers continues to set the trend to explore new ways to innovate and focus on the most responsible way to package their products (preserving freshness and aromas while protecting the environment). Mrs Rogers' image and brand have grown successfully, contributing to environmental sustainability and closed-loop practices summed up by the feedback from consumers like Sam in the message above.

Consumer feedback has provided several unintended uses and benefits. The small unbleached cardboard boxes can be used for raising seedlings and planting directly into the garden, and the biodegradable and reusable wooden clips have been used to seal other packages around the home.

Being a family-owned business employing 100 staff from 45 families, Mrs Rogers lives and breathes family values—understanding that it is “important to take care of Mother Earth that nourishes those ingredients and us” by promoting good health and well-being naturally. Their commitment to and identification with the business and the brand is shared by both their customers and employees, creating an elevated feeling of belonging that is reflected in productivity, profitability, and well-being levels.

Social and environmental benefit

Because of our dependence on plastics, we are producing waste at an alarming rate. Half of the 300 million Tonnes of plastic produced annually is for single-use items with around 8 million pieces of plastic making their way into our oceans every day. Locally, the amount of waste produced per person in New Zealand is still among the highest in the world. Mrs Rogers is removing itself from these statistics as they produce and sell 3-4 million compostable-bagged products per year; therefore, continuing to assist in minimizing household waste through home compostable packaging and other sustainability initiatives.

The innovation has had a positive social impact generated by educating and encouraging consumers to home compost and from Mrs Rogers' vision. Mrs. Rogers has successfully closed the loop in the use of renewable raw materials within the biological cycle, and at the same time, promotes natural ingredients and a healthy diet without harmful additives and preservatives.

Mrs Rogers understands everyone has a role to play to minimize waste and its impact on the environment, especially as its products are required to be supplied in small quantities in packaging for the product to remain fresh. Mrs Rogers is continuing to look at their packaging for more alternatives and better solutions with recent reusable containers and refills. They hope to further raise awareness and educate consumers on the importance of a healthy diet and a healthy environment, highlighting the interconnected nature of the two and looking for ways to avoid creating waste altogether.


Ben Slater, Marketing

Bruce Stoddart, Founder / CEO

Craig Stoddart, Sales & Marketing Director / Son of Founder

Photo of interviewee

Business information

Mrs Rogers

Mrs Rogers

Auckland, Auckland, NZ
Business Website:
Year Founded: 2001
Number of Employees: 51 to 200

As far back as the early 1920s, the original Mrs Rogers began experimenting with new and interesting herbs and spices. She was ahead of her time as she experimented with different blends, pounding them by hand to add fresh and exciting flavours to the traditional recipes she cooked for her family.

Descendants of Mrs Rogers were so impressed by her flavour combinations that they revived her original recipes and established Mrs Rogers Herbs & Spices. Founded in 2001, Mrs Rogers is a family-owned New Zealand company dedicated to the ethos of natural, non-additive products and achieving the highest standards of quality while raising the awareness and use of herbs and spices through innovation.

Mrs Rogers makes your food taste better naturally and wants all New Zealanders to discover the natural, healthy way to add taste and flavour to food.