Buzz Catering's Interview with Sadie Nine from BBC Essex about Biodegradable and Recyclable Products

Ashley Garrett Operations Manager at Buzz Catering Supplies is invited to discuss paper straws and the use of single use plastics with Sadie Nine on BBC Radio Essex.

Paper Straws

Are you seeing more demand for bio-degradable and recyclable products?

  • Buzz catering has seen a big increase in demand over the last few years, for bio-degradable catering products, compostable disposables and just eco-friendly products in general.
  • Demand in the catering and hospitality sector has not solely been focussed on traditional disposables, such as straws or plastic glasses, but also back of house, areas such as cleaning products, chemicals and even energy efficient cooking technologies.
  • Buzz Catering’s clients can range from small independent pubs through to large restaurant chains and the business decisions for making the switch to bio-degradable products can really vary.
  • For some catering businesses, it’s public perception or image. For others, it’s a real commitment to sustainability. For example, one of our recent clients has developed their whole restaurant concept around sustainability. Not just food packaging and presentation, but even down to the food miles of the ingredients on their menu.

Is there concern for your clients about the cost of going greener?

  • Buzz Catering’s clients are mostly businesses and therefore there is always an element of a financial decision to be made when selecting their catering disposables wholesaler.
  • We have been able to help many of our clients offset the perceived costs of switching to eco-friendly catering consumables in other ways. For example, putting systems in place to minimising usage such as changing the way drinks are presented or served, or adopting re-usable products as an alternative to single use items.
  • Good examples of these are our re-usable plastic glasses or our stainless-steel cocktail stirrers.

McDonalds have admitted having switched from plastic straws; the paper ones can't be recycled - do you think more needs to be done from a manufacturing perspective?

  • As the demand for eco-friendly products has increased, we already seen issues in the supply chain with regards to the global capacity to manufacture certain types of product.
  • Many of the solutions such as paper straws or bagasse food packaging are still in their infancy and the availability of manufacturing plants and raw materials has not developed at the same speed as demand.
  • There is also a lot of confusing terminology being developed and, without proper advice, t’s not always clear for consumers that the products they buy are truly environmentally friendly.
  • There are a lot of elements to be considered. Are the straws compostable so they break down naturally in the environment? Or are they bio-degradable straws? If so, what does it take to leverage that process at the level of the local recycling centre. Does manufacturing leave an impact in other ways? Are materials sustainably sourced?
  • Questions such as these mean that decision makers need to focus on the entire product lifecycle, from manufacturing through to end of life and disposal to ensure a truly environmentally friendly solution.
  • Many of the issues the commercial catering industry is facing are synonymous with the frustrations that many end-users may feel when deciphering supermarket packaging and cleaning or separating their recycling at home.

What are your thoughts on recycling in Essex, have we made the right changes as a county? Or do we have a long way to go?

  • It’s harder to comment without deeper analysis of what recycling systems are in place across the united kingdom, but it is our view that legislation and education are important parts of the solution.
  • Buzz Catering has worked with several its clients to help develop their methods for waste management, but we’ve had to work even harder to try and ensure these are implemented effectively at an operational level by staff and customers on the ground.