Nisbets’ phones ringing off the hook with operators wanting greener catering products

Nisbets’ customer service team has recorded a spike in the number of operators wanting to discuss more environmentally-friendly options for their businesses as the issue of sustainability in the foodservice industry comes to the fore.

Topics such as recycling, composting, the latte levy and the elimination of plastic straws have hit the headlines in recent months – and that has prompted coffee shops, QSRs and other foodservice businesses to think more carefully about their catering purchasing decisions.

Nisbets has been highlighting its Vegware series of disposable products to customers, with the range comprising hot and cold cups, cutlery, food cartons and clamshells.

“Vegware catering disposable products are low carbon, made from renewable or recycled materials, and can be recycled along with food waste in a commercial composting facility,” explained Simon O’Mahony, marketing director at Nisbets.

The Vegware range has been designed to ensure it provides the necessary protection for the food or drink it holds.  The hot paper cups in kraft brown are double walled which allows for air to circulate between the gap, thus providing enhanced insulation whilst keeping the cup cool to the touch. As there is a range of cartons, clamshells and panini wraps it means that virtually any type of food can be securely contained to be eaten on the go.

Mr O’Mahony said the dilemma when it comes to sustainability is “twofold”.

“Firstly, producing sustainable single-use packaging made from renewable sources, which means that the product does not deplete the natural environment during its manufacture. Trees used to make the paperboard for cups are a great example, trees are renewable, we can plant more, but the trees need to be part of a sustainably managed forest.

“A further and very topical example is the lining in takeaway cups, which are traditionally made from plastic, which is obviously not a renewable source. However, some manufacturers, such as Vegware, now use a plant-based liner made from sugar cane, which is both renewable and recyclable. Sustainable packaging such as this can also be included in food waste. The second part of the environmental dilemma is what consumers do with their takeaway coffee cups or lunch trays. Getting users to put cups into a recycling bin to ensure that the disposables end up in a commercially-operated recycling scheme is a big issue and one we need to tackle.”

Nisbets’ tips on what it all means…

Degradable Plastic
In simple terms this means the plastic fragments into lots of tiny pieces. Sounds good?  Not really, as these fragments can get washed into the sea, get eaten by plankton and find their way into the food chain and even on to our plates.

Biodegradable
These types of products can break down naturally with microbes, warmth and moisture. Result? Sort of, but as it is hard to replicate the ideal conditions there is no time line as to how long this takes to happen.

Compostable
These products are made entirely from plant materials. This means that they can biodegrade in under 12 weeks with microbes, heat and moisture and most importantly can be composted with food waste. This compost retains the nutrients vital for healthy soil.

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