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River Cottage Fair goes compostable

Posted: 1st August 2016

River Cottage’s Spring Food Fair achieved 72% recycling by serving all food on compostable packaging. Aiming to beat the UK event average of 15%, River Cottage trialed Vegware’s compostable packaging and recycling support.

After the three-day event, 680kg of used takeaway packaging was composted with food waste at Viridor’s nearby composting facility; in less than 12 weeks this soil improver will be available to River Cottage’s gardens and local farmers. River Cottage sets out the steps in a short film and is discussing it on Twitter and Instagram using #gocompostable.

Waste is a recent focus for River Cottage founder Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who caused a public outcry by revealing that only 1 in 400 UK coffee cups gets recycled. Most cups and used takeaway packaging instead goes to incineration or landfill, due to the challenge of recycling plastic-lined card with food contamination. River Cottage’s mission to reduce waste led them to trial Vegware’s compostable packaging and recycling support.

Vegware’s environmental team set River Cottage up with Viridor to collect and process the packaging and food waste at their nearby composting facility. As well as providing recycling advisors to oversee event recycling, Vegware also helped minimise contamination by creating clear bin signage and informative posters tailored to the event. Children were given Vegware’s Bin Detective stickers for recycling correctly, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall encouraged attendees to recycle in his welcome speech each day.

Richard Griffith, Organics Sales Manager for Viridor said of the project: “Everyday Viridor transforms organic waste into high-quality soil conditioner for use in agriculture. Working in partnership with Vegware we have been able to boost the recycling rate of the River Cottage Fair by incorporating recyclable packaging into our in-vessel composting process. We are looking at ways to progress this trial and deliver the benefits of enhanced recycling and circularity into the foodservice sector.”

Recycling Consultant Eilidh Brunton leads Vegware’s environmental team. “We’re delighted to show River Cottage how foodservice and events can achieve such fantastic recycling rates,” she explains. “Our compostable packaging coupled with our recycling consultancy package is a tried and tested system helping foodservice and events divert waste from landfill or incineration.”

All of Vegware’s packaging is made from plants, not plastic. It’s designed to be recycled with food waste, meaning that no separation or cleaning of the food packaging is necessary. As well as being compostable, Vegware disposables are made from low-carbon, renewable materials. The items used at the Spring Food Fair had 910kg less embodied carbon than conventional plastic-based disposables and used 218kg of recycled content.

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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