Monday 12th August 2013
Since opening in October last year, the beer café have served their food in Vegware’s certified compostable packaging and in January, they contacted The Food Waste Network, Vegware’s sister initiative that helps businesses find recycling services, for advice about how to recycle their packaging.
On speaking with The Hanging Bat it became clear that there was real room for improvement of their waste management.
Before we helped out, The Hanging Bat were recycling glass and cans, but everything else was going into the general waste bin - a total of 3 full 1100-litre bins per week going straight to landfill.
To begin reducing this we first looked at what recyclable materials were going into general waste. This was mainly food waste, Vegware packaging, cardboard, plastic and paper – all of which could be recycled.
The next step was to work out the cost of introducing recycling collections for these materials. The answer? Nothing. In fact, recycling more would mean reducing the size of the general waste bin, and The Hanging Bat would actually save money on their weekly waste costs.
This swayed it for the management and so the Hanging Bat’s journey to zero waste began. The first step was to introduce two new bins: one for food waste and compostable food packaging; one for plastic, cardboard and paper. Recycling volumes going up means general waste going down, so an important cost-saver was to reduce the size of the general bin from 1100 litre to 360 litre.
Each bin behind the bar now has bespoke bin signage made by Vegware, ensuring staff know exactly what goes where. No excuses for recyclable material going in the general bin now!
The new waste system has not only saved The Hanging Bat on its weekly waste costs, but has now successfully reduced their waste to landfill by 90%. Landfill is by far the most expensive destination for waste, so reducing your reliance on that general waste bin protects you from this. Also, this Edinburgh beer café now recycle all materials required by the incoming Waste (Scotland) Regulations.
In fact, they actually recycle even more than required by the new Regs. But The Hanging Bat are trying to go zero waste to landfill, so they are looking for ways to trim their bin even further. One tricky material they have come across is candle wax, left over when candles have burned out. To avoid sending this to landfill, they have teamed up with a local candle maker who will recycle the wax into new candles – solving a difficult waste stream whilst supporting another local business!
So what can other businesses learn from The Hanging Bat’s waste reduction experience?Firstly, increasing recycling doesnot necessarily mean increasing costs – The Hanging Bat have saved money by reducing their waste. And what’s
more it was easy – they only had to bring in two new bins to reduce waste to landfill by 90%.
Reducing waste and becoming a more sustainable business brings with it increased PR and marketing opportunities. On 7th March, The Hanging Bat’s story was shared during a Climate Week event, attended by guests from a range of high profile Scottish businesses. Look out for the event write-up in the March edition of Foodservice Footprint magazine.
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