UK parliament caterers to swap plastic for compostable products

UK parliament will introduce a new range of compostable products to replace the existing single-use plastic.
Vegware products
21/09/2018 - 07:00
The UK parliament will introduce a new range of compostable catering products to replace existing single-use plastic items.

The plant-based products, provided by UK-based company Vegware through supplier WK Thomas, will include single-use cutlery, coffee cups and lids, soup containers, takeaway food containers, salad boxes and drinking straws.

Eilidh Brunton, Vegware’s group recycling consultant, said: “The UK parliament choosing and composting Vegware is the highest accolade for compostable disposables as a practical recycling solution in foodservice.

“It’s an exemplar of best practice, breathing life into circular economy principles, composting bio waste here in the UK to enrich British soils. We are delighted to be a part of this collaboration.” 

The rollout of the new range in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords will be complete by October and is expected to result in a dramatic reduction in single use plastics in parliament.

New waste bins will be introduced to capture used compostable items, which will then be sent to a specialist waste facility.

The used disposables will be taken to the in-vessel composting facility where they will first be shredded, and the composting process kick-started by naturally occurring microorganisms already in the waste. The materials in the products are made from will biodegrade at the same rate as paper and will result in high-quality compost.

Sir Paul Beresford MP, chair of the commons administration committee, which recommended the proposals, said: “I am delighted to see significant progress being made in tackling single use, avoidable plastics in parliament.

“The measures we are introducing are ambitious and wide ranging, covering not just coffee cups, but an array of items from plastics bottles, our new compostable products, to condiment sachets and stationary. Our aim is to remove, as far as possible, disposable plastic items from the parliamentary estate. Our challenging targets reflect parliament’s commitment to leading the way in environmental sustainability.”

In addition, from October, parliament will stop selling bottled water, immediately removing 120,000 from circulation annually.

Plastic condiment sachets have also been identified as unnecessary and will be replaced with a sustainable alternative.

The catering operations in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons are run in-house by executive chefs Gary Devereux and Mark Hill, respectively. 

The House of Commons feeds 650 MPs plus another 14,500 pass-holders, and in 2016 it cost £2.9million to cover the difference between income and spending on food, salaries and other costs.

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