Putting sustainability on the menu

More than eight out of 10 hospitality businesses consider themselves sustainable, yet almost half don’t have specific corporate social responsibility (CSR) targets in place, according to new research.

Of those that have set targets, reducing waste is the most popular (81%), followed by energy efficiency (65%). Working with sustainable suppliers (64%), cutting consumption of single-use plastics (61%) and increasing the use of local produce (59%) make up the top five ambitions.

The figures, compiled by Brita Professional, also showed that 57% of the 355 businesses surveyed are banning plastic straws, whilst 53% are working with suppliers to source fully recyclable packaging and 33% are offering refills rather than plastic bottles. One in four (25%) has a discount in place for customers that bring refillable bottles or reusable cups.

In the out of home sector, 920,000 tonnes of food is wasted every year, of which a staggering 75% is avoidable. Simultaneously, 1.3 million tonnes of packaging and 0.66 million tonnes of other non-food wastes are also discarded.

One food business which is achieving great things in this area is Silo, the UK’s first zero waste restaurant, based in Brighton. Chef Douglas McMaster opened the eatery in 2014 designing it from “back to front, always with the bin in mind” and has gone on to win a host of awards, including the Craft Guild of Chefs Innovation Award 2018.

The Silo team successfully eliminate the production of waste by choosing to trade directly with farmers, using reusable crates and other delivery vessels, as well as local ingredients that themselves generate no waste. Any scraps and trimmings from the cooking or leftover food go straight into the restaurant’s on-site compost machine, generating up to 60kg of compost in just 24 hours, in-turn going back to the farmers, helping to produce more food, successfully closing the loop.

The restaurant’s own flour mill pays homage to ancient culinary techniques, turning varieties of wheat into flour the original way, and steering clear of the over-processed industrialised bread-making processes.

In addition, Silo churns its own butter, produces almond milk, rolls oats and supports a nose to tail ideology, using as much as possible of an animal, out o f respect for nature.

Located in a bright, open warehouse space, even Silo’s furniture and fittings follow suit, created from a desire to re-use, opting for up-cycling over recycling. Tables and seating are made from materials that would otherwise have been wasted and crafted with innovation to serve function. Dining plates are creatively formed from melted-down plastic bags, tables made from industrial floor tiles, and work benches crafted from filing cabinet frames.

The toilets are flushed with the waste water from the coffee machines, and installed with electrolysed oxidised water to neutralise bacteria, instead of soap.

Douglas explains: “Silo was conceived from a desire to innovate the food industry whilst demonstrating respect: respect for the environment, respect for the way our food is generated and respect for the nourishment given to our bodies. This means that we create everything from its whole form cutting out food miles and over-processing, while preserving nutrients and the integrity of the ingredients in the process. By creating everything on site from its wholest form, we can capture real food, and real food tastes better.”


Photographer: Xavier D. Buendia


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