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SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING


says Miick. “It costs an additional 25 cents per package, but it is part of the values of the business. It wants to be an active partner in the neighborhood. It costs more, but it’s a selling point.” Global reusable packaging platform


Loop, which promotes durable packaging that customers can return to producers, is growing fast, and quick-service restaurants including Burger King and McDonald’s are taking part. While big chains with strong fi nancial backing might be able to choose more expensive sustainable options, the temptation for smaller businesses is to go cheap. There are, however, exceptions.


Good for brand image The UMBEL restaurant group, formed by chef Simon Rogan, introduced new packaging solutions during the pandemic to embody both quality and social responsibility. Managing director Sam Ward, who oversees the eight- strong restaurant portfolio in The Lake District, London and Hong Kong, accepts sustainable packaging costs more, but is key to the brand’s identity. “There are challenges in terms of


logistics and cost,” he says. “1,000 plastic straws cost £3.50, but 1,000 paper straws cost more than £10. We wanted to reduce packaging as much as possible, and for it to be recyclable and compostable.” “It is driven by individuals, not organizations and not the government,” Ward adds. “There’s a tax coming in the UK of £300 per tonne of materials that are less than 30% recyclable. It’s nothing. Those materials should be banned. Why is plastic packaging still available?”


Making the right choices More eco-friendly packaging solutions come to market all the time. For example, Spanish designer Ana Roquero, who launched Cookplay in 2014, recently designed delivery packaging made of 100% sugar cane.


For more go to fcsi.org


“The material is totally compostable and biodegradable,” she says. “I think we will see a moment when every restaurant and everybody in hospitality will have their own delivery business and they have to work out what they cook and how it reaches the fi nal client.”


“The pandemic has accelerated that transformation,” she adds. “It helps that there are big name chefs out there who spread the word.”


Operators of all sizes can make a


diff erence and research suggests that customers increasingly care about sustainability. A recent McKinsey survey of US customers suggests they would be willing to pay more for sustainably packaged products if more were available. “Any foodservice business always has the opportunity to make the right choice,” says Miick. “It is about values integration – considering profi tability, the environment and people. Start with what you can aff ord. People want clean food and responsible packaging.”


A long road ahead


There is much work to do, and regulation will only go so far. “Sustainability means overcoming challenges – doing something now for the future,” says Ward. “It feels like a luxury to buy something sustainable, as it costs more, but we should actually be paying more for the less sustainable options.” Some organizations, including The Flexible Packaging Association and Product Stewardship Association, are calling for extended producer responsibility at the end of life for packaging and paper. But there is still resistance to the additional cost sustainability brings. “Things are moving in the right direction and if you want to engage with sustainability, there are real choices,” says Miick. “The opportunity for us, as consultants, is to not back away from the resistance. Be tenacious, keep bringing it up. It is at the root of our ethics.”


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