North Berwick businesses cut waste, save money and make the grass grow greener!

Every day seems to bring more shocking images of packaging in the environment harming wildlife. Many of us now ask what can I do to stop litter reaching the sea? Reduce, reuse and recycle is a familiar refrain but what can we do about polystyrene takeaway packaging? Often it is only used once before being discarded and it can’t be easily recycled. 

North Berwick businesses are now leading the way in the search for alternatives, from composting coffee cups to fully recyclable packaging. Some are even finding it can save money. So could North Berwick become compostable? Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is used in fast food businesses as it’s a cheap and insulating material, but it’s not only littering which harms the environment, but the whole EPS lifecycle. A year ago, environmental charity Fidra looked into replacements for EPS takeaway food packaging and found the best solution would be compostable packaging. But to make a ‘compostable North Berwick’ involves infrastructure, incentives and innovation. “Today, however, progress is beginning” says Dr Clare Cavers, Senior Project Manager at Fidra, “While we will never know if it is because of seeds that were sown by us or a mix of things in the wind, we do know there is hope ahead and North Berwick could be leading the way”. 

Vegware launched their ‘Close the Loop’ system and set up collection systems for compostable packaging as a registered waste broker. Originally on a trial basis in Edinburgh, it has recently been extended to East Lothian and taken up by two local businesses, long-standing users of compostable packaging Steampunk and The Walled Garden at Archerfield. Elly Douglas-Hamilton, Director of Archerfield Estates Ltd, comments “We have learnt a lot in how we control our waste in the last six months and have a long way to go however some great achievements have been made. Working together with other local businesses like Steampunk means that we can share information and ideas and start translating these ideas into practical reality. I hope this is something we can encourage other businesses in doing and help us all to realise that perceived barriers are perhaps not as great as they seem.

There is a definite groundswell towards more sustainable lifestyles and groups such as Sustaining North Berwick and Plastic Free North Berwick are empowering our local community, meaning with the involvement of more businesses and the community North Berwick could become a ‘compostable town’.  With these exciting times ahead, Fidra is organising an information event for local SMEs in and around North Berwick this autumn. Businesses will be contacted directly, but if you would like to be involved or find out more, please contact Fidra. As one local coffee enthusiast commented, “It’s great to think my old cup is compost. As long as I put it in the right bin I can still enjoy a takeaway without adding to landfill. I just wish I could get some polystyrene free chips too!’’

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