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Beyond cups: the future of recycling in foodservice

Posted: 29th September 2017

Vegware_concept_fullrange_knollingVegware, the Edinburgh compostable packaging manufacturer, has launched a new composting collection service for its catering disposables.

The ‘Close the Loop’ service now means that composting collections are available to businesses across Scotland, taking used Vegware and food waste for industrial composting into high-grade horticultural compost. Cup recycling hit the headlines when it was revealed that, of the 2.5bn cups used in the UK every year, fewer than 1 in 400 paper cups are recycled. Launched to mark Recycle Week and International Coffee Day, Vegware’s compostable solution enables foodservice to recycle all takeaway packaging, not just cups.

Eilidh Brunton, Vegware’s group recycling consultant, explained: “There are now some initiatives to separate out and recycle plastic-lined paper cups. That is a good start, but what about the lid, tea bag, stirrer, spoon and sandwich box? In reality, used takeaway packaging is a mix of materials contaminated with food, and goes to incineration or landfill. Our approach is simple: if it’s all made from plants, not plastic, and can be composted together with food waste, then there’s no sorting. All used takeaway items go together with food waste, and can be processed at industrial composting facilities around the UK in under 12 weeks. Catering waste can create high-grade horticultural compost, to feed the next generation of plants.”

Starting in the Edinburgh firm’s home turf, Vegware has launched its own collection service to demonstrate producer responsibility and make collections accessible to more Scottish businesses. Run by the disposables manufacturer itself, Close the Loop understands the best facilities to process compostable packaging and food waste. Waste from the Central Belt is composted at GP Green Recycling, near Glasgow. Initial Close the Loop clients include the Glasgow Science Centre and independent Edinburgh cafes Union of Genius and Pumpkin Brown. Close the Loop is a disruptive model, a waste service which is flexible and competitively priced. Clients choose any collection day and have no contract ties.

Vegware has set up zero waste systems with collections for clients around the UK, including corporate clients from London to Aberdeen, and food fairs at River Cottage. Dundee and Angus College composts its disposables on-site, creating quality mulch in 14 days for its horticultural courses.

Edinburgh Coffee Festival, on 14th October 2017, is aiming to be the UK’s first zero waste coffee festival, with support from Vegware and Close the Loop. Vegware’s Environmental team has provided consultancy, signage and training, and all traders will be using compostable cups, lids and assorted disposables. All food waste, coffee grounds and used Vegware will be collected in Close the Loop bins and composted near Glasgow into high-grade horticultural compost.

Edinburgh Coffee Festival organiser Martin Dare, said: “We understand the challenges of recycling coffee cups, but it’s only through working with Vegware that we have found a solution to allow Edinburgh Coffee Festival to truly go zero waste. Cups are talked about the most, but making everything compostable keeps recycling simple. The measures we’re taking at the Festival are designed to demonstrate to a wider audience what compostables can achieve.”

Vegware has made a short animation for social media introducing Close the Loop and exploring why recycling goes beyond cups: https://youtu.be/Nd53i9Gw3GE.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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