STAFF AT Encore Hospitality Services, the catering arm of Cordia, have been turning leftovers into the food of tomorrow at Glasgow’s Tramway café bar.
The new initiative, which has only been running for a few weeks, means not a spot of food will go to waste, be it coffee grinds or potato skins, as raw food refuse is recycled into compost for the nearby Hidden Gardens.
In return for their recycling efforts, kitchen staff will be rewarded with fresh herbs, chillies and edible flowers as these are harvested over the course of the summer.
Cassandra McIntyre, hospitality services team leader at Tramway, and her team collect food waste from the kitchen which is then passed on to staff at The Hidden Gardens to be composted. The waste decomposes naturally over a period of six to nine months, producing hardly any methane gas.
However, if the same food waste is sent to landfill, the lack of air means it produces harmful greenhouse gases.
Recent studies have shown that home-composting for one year can reduce emissions equivalent to all the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by the average household washing machine in three months.
More than half of the food waste in household bins can be composted, and if every person in the UK followed in Encore’s footsteps and composted their suitable food waste, we would prevent over two million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.
Kitchen staff at the Tramway go through one 25kg bag of potatoes a week and these peelings will now go towards improving soil structure, maintaining moisture levels and keeping the soil pH balance in check.
Furthermore, the leftover coffee grinds from the café are a good nitrogen source for soil, as well as an effective slug-barrier for plants.
The composting project is not the first move the company has made to become an environmentally-friendly service. Encore has already won the Soil Association’s Gold Food for Life Catering Mark for the standard of its catering operation at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.
The Food for Life Catering Mark is a unique, UK-wide scheme which rewards catering businesses who serve fresh food free from controversial additives and that is better for animal welfare. The Emirates Arena is the only leisure facility in the UK to achieve the Gold level.
Caterers who achieve Gold are awarded points for offering a wide range of organic, free range and locally sourced ingredients, and their credentials are put under the microscope by Soil Association inspectors.
Speaking about the Tramway project, Cassandra said: “We are dedicated to playing our part in recycling and reducing waste, and this initiative is just the latest in a long line of projects committed to increasing our green credentials.
“As an added bonus, not only does this scheme reduce waste production, but it also increases the ability to grow some of our own food on nearby premises, meaning we are further offsetting our carbon footprint.
“In the few weeks that we’ve been recycling raw food waste for compost, many of our customers have commented on being impressed by the idea, so we know our efforts are appreciated by our patrons!”
Laura Stewart, director of Soil Association Scotland said: “Encore is already leading the way at the Emirates Arena as the only leisure facility in the UK to hold the Gold Food for Life Catering Mark.
“This unique new partnership between its Tramway Café and the Hidden Gardens is really exciting. By recycling food waste and growing their own sustainable, fresh, edible produce the partnership is setting a tangible example of their commitment to using fresh local produce, and reducing food waste in the process which also benefits the wider community.”