The rise of the green canteen

Businesses and organisations across the nation and around the world are doing their bit to reduce their environmental footprint. One of the biggest ways canteens are greening their ways is the reduction of waste that heads towards landfill. A big problem is plastic packaging and cutlery. Single-use plastics get a bad rap when it comes to the environment. Government
mandated bans on plastic straws, bags, plates and cutlery vary from state to state. Some states have already banned straws and bags, some bans come into effect in March 2022 and then more in 2023. It is wise then to have an understanding of the alternatives. There are some excellent biodegradable or re-cyclable fibre-based trays, napkins and cutlery available from producers such as Caterers’ Choice. Some packaging can even be composted in council green bins.

Food waste that hits the red bins, however, ends up in landfill where it decomposes into the powerful greenhouse gas, methane. People in the food business always scan what is left after eating – even the great chefs see what comes back to the kitchen. By managing menus and portion sizes it is possible to make sure there is less food waste that is sent to the garbage. Re-purpose ingredients into new dishes. Day-old bread that is no good for fresh sandwiches can be used for toasties. Slightly bruised or blemished fruit can be used in smoothies, apple muffins or banana bread. Finally, consider the school garden. Any food that needs to be disposed of could head the way of the compost bin and end up in the school veggie patch. Some canteens have a ‘home chook’ scheme where some kitchen waste is sent home to feed hungry hens.