Sydney eateries cut out plastic cutlery

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Some Sydney, N.S., food establishments are serving up more environmentally friendly take out.

The Little Rollin’ Bistro Food truck and Selkie’s Neighbourhood Diner have switched out some of their single-use plastics for compostable options. 

Laura Young, the chef and owner of Little Rollin’ Bistro who also runs a catering kitchen at the French Club in Sydney, said it was important to her to switch to compostable cups, straws and forks this season

“We’re obviously having a big impact on this earth in a bad way, so whatever we can do to make that better, we should try,” said Young. “You drive by the dump, you see a mountain and under that is plastic and garbage.” 

Young said the compostable cups cost about 15 cents more per cup than the plastic ones, and the lids, straws and forks each cost a few cents more as well.

Two Sydney food establishments have begun offering compostable utensils to their take-out customers. (Nicole MacLennan/CBC)

It adds to the cost of doing business, she said, but so far she’s been able to compensate in other ways. 

“There’s a big cost difference, so I think that’s a problem with a lot of small businesses. It’s huge, really.” But she maintains it’s worth it. “I think it’s important that all of us try to do whatever we can to save the planet, or help.”

Buying in bulk is one way to help cut down on the cost and make it easier for small businesses to afford eco-friendly options, according to Cory Blundon, a chef and co-owner of Selkie’s Neighbourhood Diner. 

The restaurant recently switched to compostable take out utensils and packaging. It also replaced plastic bags with paper.

“I think we felt like, it kind of feels weird to ignore the problem,” said Blundon. “The cheapest solution is definitely styrofoam and when we opened our food truck first, we decided that there would never be styrofoam in that truck. It just feels like you’re saving money at the cost of the environment or someone else’s future … so the little bit extra we pay for the packaging feels worth it.”

Cory Blundon of Selkie’s Neighbourhood Diner holds some of their compostable utensils. (Nicole MacLennan/CBC)

Blundon said the extra costs add up. For example, he said, a package of 1,000 compostable forks costs about $90 while plastic ones are about $40.

But he said they’re willing to absorb the cost, especially if it’s something customers want.

“I think that a big part of our business is giving people what they want and if they want us to be more responsible and we want to be more responsible, we’ll make it happen,” said Blundon. “We haven’t had to raise any prices yet but I think that if we had to in the future, people would understand.”

He said they feel responsible for any waste they generate, inside the restaurant and out.

“We don’t know what people do with their garbage once they take it away from us. So — we don’t want them to — but should they fire it out the window it’s nice to know that it’s going to compost instead of sit there and be trash.”

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