Bristol food businesses can now take advantage of a new composting collection scheme, Close the Loop. The service, launched by compostable disposables manufacturer Vegware, collects clients’ used Vegware takeaway packaging to turn into rich compost for Gloucestershire fields.
Bristol is leading a huge move away from single-use plastic, yet food service businesses still often rely on disposable takeaway containers. While conventional disposables are notoriously challenging to recycle, due to the mix of plastic, card and food residues, Vegware’s plant-based packaging is designed for industrial composting.
The University of the West of England has already signed up for the new composting collections, in response to concerns from their students and staff. Used Vegware compostable coffee cups, cutlery and containers from OneZone, the main student restaurant at UWE’s Frenchay campus, are turned into compost for Gloucestershire farmers. UWE’s Sustainable Projects Officer Eddy Piper says, “We are pleased to have found a way to reduce the impact of our single-use packaging”.
Already popular in Scotland, Close the Loop is now rolling out in Bristol, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. Food waste and used Vegware is collected from cafes, offices, schools, health facilities and universities, and taken to Gloucestershire’s Rose Hill composting facility. The animation below explains the process.
Vegware’s Bristol-based Recycling Advisor Georgia Budden elaborates:
“Bristol people are so engaged in sustainability. We have seen huge demand for Close the Loop, and are already collecting from a dozen sites, from independent cafes to offices and universities. We make bin signage and posters to make sure it is simple to choose the right bin. The local response has been amazing.”
Vegware have also begun a bring-back scheme, the Composting Collective, to encourage takeway customers to return Vegware packaging for composting. The scheme also aims to promote visiting independent cafés over high-street chains.
Café Matariki at Pacific Yoga, which overlooks the waterfront by Bristol Bridge, is the first member the Composting Collective. The Composting Collective unites local cafes, creating a network of bring-back points for consumers to access composting, even if it was bought elsewhere. Members, like the Epiphany Café at the Royal West of England Academy, showcase their participation with window stickers and in-café posters.
UK soils are suffering a fertility crisis, and Michael Gove has warned that British farms are 30 to 40 years away from, “the fundamental eradication of soil fertility”. Compost returns nutrients to the soil, and has the added benefit of improving soil structure, reducing the risk of floods.