Author: Tom Mockridge, Commercial Director @ Paper Round

Foodservice businesses face a new set of challenges as they plan to reopen post-lockdown.

Many businesses which had previously made a shift to reusable cups and crockery are moving back to disposables for understandable hygiene reasons. This increase in disposables opens up questions about sustainability – both of the packaging materials and what happens to them once they’ve been used. In many cases conventional disposables don’t have a good quality recycling option, due to the combination of mixed materials with food contamination and end up being burnt or landfilled.

So whatever challenges you are facing, it’s important to choose the right kind of packaging in the new world. Not only to keep your customers safe and your service hygienic, but also to help you achieve your sustainability goals.

The solution?

Many of Paper Round’s customers are looking at compostables such as Vegware as a practical solution for foodservice disposables. They are plant-based packaging products made from renewable, lower carbon, recycled or reclaimed materials and designed to be commercially compostable with food residue waste in 12-weeks or less.

However, to realise the full environmental benefits, a suitable end-of-life service must be put in place.

That’s where our new Vegware compostable service comes in.

What’s different about our service? 

After a 12-month pilot we’ve teamed up with Vegware to bring London, Brighton and Sussex a commercial composting service.

Our pilot scheme involved 12 London corporate offices including offices catered by bartlett mitchell, ISS Food Services, Lexington and Sodexo. One of the trial sites was the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, managed by Interserve FM, incorporating their catering services brand, Autograph.

Through the trials we demonstrated that with good site set up and training, we could run successful compostable collections, which are very intolerant of contamination with materials such as plastic.  About 30 tonnes of material was collected during the trials which all met the quality requirements of the composting processor.  At one trial site, education and engagement helped improve the percentage of target materials by 63% in just one month.

Because it is so important to keep the level of contamination with non-compostable material low, the service is targeted at sites which have tight control of the types of packaging used – like office canteens.  In addition to providing the compostable collections, our partnership with Vegware will also provide businesses with education on compostables, best practice recycling and how sites need to be set up for good composting waste management  For instance, although leftover food residues are accepted, contamination from other recyclables and waste must be kept to minimal levels.  In collaboration with Vegware we will support compostable scheme launches and provide training to make sure that contamination is kept to a minimum, so your compostable waste gets the best environmental outcome.

In case you missed it

Here’s a recording of the webinar we hosted about learnings from the trials, the benefits of using compostables and how the new service works in practice.

With input from UK contract caterers, Vegware have also produced a handy Back to Business guide which you can download for free here.

With restrictions and social distancing set to be in place for the foreseeable future, it’s important that foodservice businesses do not lose the sustainability gains they made pre-lockdown. Our new service offers a vital and timely sustainable solution for end-of-life compostables, as disposables are increasingly in demand.

The service is available to businesses in London, Brighton and Sussex. Further information on our newly-launched service collecting Vegware compostables is at www.paper-round.co.uk.