Burger King announces reusable container pilot program

October 23, 2020 by  
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If the ghosts of fast food containers past are haunting your conscience, Burger King has the solution. The fast food giant has announced a pilot plan to introduce reusable containers. Burger King is partnering with Loop , a circular packaging service owned by TerraCycle, to provide the new containers. Consumers can opt to pay a container deposit when buying a meal. When they return the packaging, they get a refund. Loop cleans the packaging, preparing it for a long life of housing infinite Whoppers and Cokes. The pilot program will go into effect next year in Tokyo, New York City and Portland, Oregon. If it goes well, more cities will soon know the joy of a recycled Whopper box. Related: Swiss grocery store chain will be the first to sell insect burgers “As part of our Restaurant Brands for Good plan, we’re investing in the development of sustainable packaging solutions that will help push the food service industry forward in reducing packaging waste ,” said Matthew Banton, Burger King Global’s head of innovation and sustainability. “The Loop system gives us the confidence in a reusable solution that meets our high safety standards, while also offering convenience for our guests on the go.” Burger King has set a goal of 100% of customer packaging being sourced from recycled, renewable or certified sources by 2025. The company is also trying to improve its waste diversion. By 2025, Burger King restaurants in the U.S. and Canada aim to recycle 100% of guest packaging. The pandemic has focused even more attention on packaging, since so many restaurants are closed for in-house dining. “During COVID, we have seen the environmental impact of increased takeaway ordering which makes this initiative by Burger King all the more important,” said Tom Szaky, TerraCycle and Loop CEO, as reported in BusinessWire . “This enables Burger King consumers to easily bring reusability into their daily lives, and whether they choose to eat-in or takeaway, they will be able to get some of their favorite food and drinks in a reusable container.” Via BusinessWire and Business Insider Image via Burger King / BusinessWire

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Burger King announces reusable container pilot program

Organic vegan restaurant named to raise awareness for deforestation in Brazil

June 9, 2020 by  
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Recently opened in the Brazilian city of São Paulo and designed by local architecture and design practice VAGA, the Cajuí Restaurant offers a menu of vegan , organic and natural ingredients supplied by small farmers from different regions of Brazil. Cajuí was named after the native species of cashew found in the Cerrado biome grasslands in central Brazil. Lesser known yet right next door to the Amazon rainforest , the Cerrado biome encompasses almost 800,000 square miles of savannas and grasslands — roughly the size of Alaska and California put together — and is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. It is home to 5% of the planet’s biodiversity, and many of the country’s indigenous people who live there rely on the ecosystem’s resources for sustainable livelihoods. According to the World Wildlife Fund , deforestation in the Cerrado is responsible for an estimated 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year; this is the same amount that 53 million cars would emit in one year. Related: Modular materials make up an eco-friendly restaurant in Taiwan Cajuí Restaurant is the brainchild of plant-based chef and São Paulo-native Natalia Luglio, who wanted to open an accessible restaurant in her hometown that prioritized organic , local ingredients. The unique biome of Cerrado serves not only as inspiration behind the name but also as an inspiration behind both the menu and the ambiance. Because of this, the designers wanted to pay special attention to the vibrant interaction between color, light and material in ways that alluded to the Cerrado. The architects concentrated on creating ample natural light in between the exterior and the interior spaces by attaching an additional wooden structure to the body of the main building, which had been renovated. VAGA also added translucent roof tiles lined with organic jute on the ceiling so that the sunlight could shine through and influence the color depending on the time of day. The red pigment in the cement floor of the restaurant mirrors the color of the Cerrado soil. Large plant beds were added to the staff area to hold some of the ingredients used on the menu. To keep the construction as sustainable as possible, almost all of the waste generated from the renovation was reused for additional projects, such as the waiting area deck, floor leveling and the bamboo ceiling in the back of the building. + VAGA Photography by Pedro Napolitano Prata via VAGA

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Organic vegan restaurant named to raise awareness for deforestation in Brazil

Nina+Co sustainably furnishes a zero-waste London restaurant

May 1, 2020 by  
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In an industry notorious for food waste, award-winning chef Douglas McMaster has achieved the seemingly unattainable —  Silo , the world’s first zero-waste restaurant. For Silo’s second outpost in London, local interior design studio  Nina+Co  teamed up with McMaster to craft an interior that reinforces the restaurant’s sustainable ethos with locally sourced natural materials and innovative design aimed at minimizing environmental impact. Launched in Australia in 2011, Silo was heralded as the world’s first  zero-waste  restaurant. Its success spurred the creation of a branch in Brighton, U.K., followed by a second venue in east London that opened during the fall of last year. The long-anticipated London branch is located on the upper floor of the renovated White Building, within an old cocoa roasting factory with large steel-framed windows and exposed steel trusses. In contrast with the industrial setting (the approach begins with a canal-side cast-iron staircase next to a graffiti-covered bridge), Silo’s interiors are surprisingly elegant and minimalist.  “A few pioneering and high-quality materials, a very crafted process, and a zero-waste mentality form the basis of the design,” said Nina Woodcroft, founder of Nina+Co, in a press release. “The aim is to close the loop, with an interior composed from waste or thoughtfully sourced,  natural materials , that will either biodegrade or easily disassemble for repurposing in the future. Following Silo’s post-industrial ethos, we opted to work with local crafts people using age-old techniques, as well as harnessing innovative materials and technologies.” Related: A zero-waste, self-sustaining home of the future Recycled materials are featured throughout the restaurant interiors, beginning with the host stand built from offcuts of timber laminated into a tree stump-like shape. Natural cork harvested by hand lines the floors, while natural,  biodegradable  woolen fabrics were used to upholster the seats, and linen was used for the wardrobe curtain. Thirty bespoke lights crafted specially for Silo by Nina+Co were produced by a local potter with crushed glass wine bottles from the restaurant, and a pendant light near the entrance was made from foraged seaweed.  + Nina+Co Images via Sam A. Harris

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Nina+Co sustainably furnishes a zero-waste London restaurant

New study takes nuanced look at bug decline

May 1, 2020 by  
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While scientists have observed the worldwide decline of  insects  over the last decades, a new study shows that the big picture is more complicated than they thought. The study, published in  Science , drew on data from 166 surveys from 1,676 sites. Some of the broad findings were that, while the number of land-dwelling insects is going down, freshwater bugs are increasing. And if you’ve noticed a decrease in bugs splattering your windshield, you’re right. “Our analysis shows that flying insects have indeed decreased on average,” said Jonathan Chase of the German Centre for Integrative  Biodiversity  Research, one of the study’s authors. Insects are extremely diverse, with many species filling key roles on the planet, such as recycling nutrients, aerating soil and pollinating  plants . The study shows how nuanced and mysterious insects are, with many hiding away under the soil, in tree canopies and on riverbanks. Surprisingly, even when bugs live close together geographically, some populations can be thriving while nearby members of the same species are floundering. The study found that overall, terrestrial insects such as ants,  butterflies  and grasshoppers were decreasing by 0.92% per year. This equals 9% per decade. “That is extremely serious, over 30 years it means a quarter less insects,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Roel Van Klink, of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research. “And because it’s a mean, there are places where it is much worse than that.” Bug decline was particularly severe in Western and Midwestern regions of the U.S., and Europe, especially Germany. The increase in freshwater insects such as midges and mayflies was one bright note in the study — assuming you’re not sunbathing on a lakeshore. Their populations were growing by about 1.08% per year. Freshwater insects were especially trending in the western U.S., northern Europe and  Russia . Researchers credited this population growth to legislation that has cleaned polluted lakes and rivers. “We believe that because we see these increases in fresh water insects, that are related to legislation being put in place, it makes us hopeful that if we put in place the right types of legislation for land insects we can also make them recover,” said Van Klink. Even the terrestrial insects could still make a comeback, Van Klink said. “The nice thing about insects is that most have incredibly large numbers of offspring, so if you change the  habitat in the right way we will see them recover really fast.” + BBC Images via Pexels

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Pixie Retreat: Behind the scenes in a raw commercial kitchen

March 18, 2020 by  
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I’ve been vegetarian since childhood and have met people with many different takes on a healthy plant-based diet. The raw foodists I’ve encountered have blown me away with the innovation it takes to come up with a menu beyond salad while limiting cooking temperatures to no more than 118 degrees. The raw food philosophy is that heat breaks down food’s nutritional value, while low temperatures allow food to retain enzymes and vitamins, leading to the body’s ability to prevent and fight disease and generally thrive. So when Theresa Keane, co-owner of Pixie Retreat , invited me to tour her Portland, Oregon raw food kitchen, I was intrigued. Her team produces a full vegan, organic , gluten-free and mostly raw menu on a commercial scale. Not only do they supply Pixie Retreat’s three Portland retail locations, they’ve also started wholesaling to local stores. Let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at a commercial raw food kitchen. The early years Pixie Retreat was built on a dream and a lot of hard work, trial and error. Keane co-founded the business with Willow O’Brien in 2008. At the time, they wanted to make and sell healthful and delicious food , but were new to the dining business. “We didn’t know what we were doing,” Keane said. “We never worked in kitchens, Willow and I. She didn’t even know how to make food. She made tea and stuff like that.” They started out sharing a commissary kitchen with other vegan businesses. That’s where they met Anna Clark, who later became their third business partner. Clark, a pastry chef, was the only one with formal culinary training. After 9 months in the commissary kitchen, they rented a house and ran Pixie Retreat out of it, working late into the night while filling wholesale orders. Keane described a time when an engineer acquaintance stopped by. Their setup left him shocked. “We had eight refrigerators, freezers, 20 dehydrators,” Keane said. “He said it’s amazing you don’t burn this house down. Every night, the power would trip off. We couldn’t even turn the heat on because it would trip the power.” A spotless, modern raw food kitchen They’ve come a long way. Now headquartered in Southeast Portland’s industrial district, the Pixie Retreat RAW’r Laboratorie & Makery is both a retail outlet and the site of their commercial kitchen. The small front part has a seating area and a case of premade wraps and goodies. “We’re grab-and-go style, because that’s how people are living,” Keane said. “We’re not a sit down-like service restaurant . We’re into flavor, satisfaction and integrity of our ingredients. Plating is not my forte.” Customers can also custom-order kale- or millet-based bowls and coconut cream puddings with toppings. The millet is one of several cooked ingredients available. A big white curtain hangs behind the counter, obscuring the kitchen. “That’s more for health department reasons,” Keane said, indicating the curtain. “And to protect the magic back there.” We step through the curtain and find three workers preparing food in an extremely well-organized kitchen. It’s Thursday, one of the big assembly days for delivering to the two other Pixie Retreat outlets. Tacked up on the door of the walk-in dehydrator are long to-do lists for each day of the week. Keane introduced me to her staff and to each machine, many of which were specially made or adapted to the needs of a mostly raw food kitchen. The walk-in dehydration room is the most exciting and unusual. Keane opened the door, releasing a smoky smell. Inside are trays and trays of eggplant bacon strips, which stay in there for 72 hours. Pixie Retreat bought the dehydrator from a former kale chip entrepreneur who devised tools to streamline raw food making. Keane estimated the walk-in dehydrator is 75% more efficient than the company’s former multiple-dehydrator setup. Pixie Retreat has a Robot Coupe Blixer, which is an industrial-strength food processor. “This tool is a game changer,” Keane said. “I mean, it’s expensive like a car, but it paid for itself in labor. I love this tool so much.” The company uses it to blend ingredients for pizza dough, macadamia nut cheese and raw onion bread. Pixie Retreat makes raw chocolate in its chocolate machine, melting it down at a temperature of 108. The chocolate winds up in treats like chocolate salted “karmals”, “almond butta cups” and dehydrated, oat-based chocolate chip cookies. Other interesting tools include an Italian fruit press repurposed for squeezing excess moisture out of sauerkraut and a specially made enormous cookie-cutter to cut onion bread into uniform squares while minimizing waste . Raw and vegan at home The Pixie Retreat kitchen is cool but daunting. What about the average person who wants to add more raw food into their diet without shelling out for a Blixer? “Make nut milk ,” Keane said. “That’s where I would start.” You’ll need a nut milk bag, available online or in some grocery stores’ produce departments. She recommended starting with hazelnuts or almonds. For flavor and sweetness, add sea salt, vanilla and a Medjool date. Put it all in your blender. “Kick it up on high. Blend it. Then you put it in the nut milk bag and you squeeze it out.” Dry out the pulp and use it as a nut flour for baked goods. Related: How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative After you master nut milk, try making nut cheese. Keane recommended blending buttery macadamia nuts with water, Italian seasoning, lemon juice and sea salt for a plant-based ricotta. Going national Pixie Retreat scaled back from wholesale for a while to focus on retail locations. But it has just relaunched, selling chocolate “karmal”, salted “karmal” and raspberry “l’il puddin” at New Seasons stores in Portland. Made with organic young coconut meat and Irish moss, these raw desserts are packed with nutrients . Soon, Pixie Retreat plans to introduce nationwide cold shipping of the “l’il puddin’”. Currently, customers across the U.S. can order sweet or savory Pixie snack boxes . But Pixie Retreat’s goals go far beyond Portland or even the U.S. When I asked Keane about the company vision, she immediately said, “Global. That’s the dream. We want to be the fast food of the future.” + Pixie Retreat Images via Josh Chang and Marielle Dezurick / Pixie Retreat and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Pixie Retreat: Behind the scenes in a raw commercial kitchen

LEED Gold-certified Azurmendi crowned Worlds Most Sustainable Restaurant

March 6, 2020 by  
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Three-star Michelin restaurant Azurmendi has once again been crowned the “World’s Most Sustainable Restaurant” by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Noteworthy for its renewable energy systems that offset the building’s carbon footprint, the LEED Gold -certified restaurant has also distinguished itself as a leader of sustainable development with its proactive community role in encouraging knowledge-sharing and a circular economy. Located in Spain near the town of Bilbao, Azurmendi is also currently working on a germplasm bank to host over 400 local seed varieties of vegetables to show the importance of preserving genetic diversity.  Helmed by owners Eneko Atxa and Gorka Izagirre, Azurmendi was developed with the belief that all parts of the restaurant’s operations should be holistically considered, from the land it sits on to the surrounding Basque cultural heritage. Completed in 2010, the bioclimatic building was designed to minimize site impact and incorporate local and recycled materials as well as cutting-edge renewable energy systems. In addition to being recognized as the World’s Most Sustainable Restaurant by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2014 and 2018, Azurmendi also earned LEED Gold certification and is the first sustainable restaurant of its kind on the Iberian Peninsula. Related: Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia Along with adherence to passive solar conditions to minimize energy usage, Azurmendi is equipped with highly efficient insulation, energy-efficient fixtures and high-performance glass that improves energy savings by 50%. The building draws power from photovoltaic solar panels as well as geothermal energy, which is used to power the climate control systems. Rainwater is collected and stored in tanks large enough to cover 100% of irrigation and toilet needs. To further reduce its carbon footprint, the owners planted 700 native trees around the restaurant. They have also joined an initiative promoted by the City of Larrabetzu to recycle all of the restaurant’s organic waste into compost that is then used by local farmers to fertilize their fields. Azurmendi works closely with several producers in the area for local ingredients, which are picked up by a single truck in one trip to reduce carbon emissions. + Azurmendi Images via Azurmendi

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LEED Gold-certified Azurmendi crowned Worlds Most Sustainable Restaurant

Roaming shipping container museum brings contemporary art through Panama

March 6, 2020 by  
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Panamanian architect Héctor Ayarza has figured out a cool and sustainable way to bring art to the masses. His fantastic Wandering Museum is a roaming structure made out of two reclaimed shipping containers . The project helps bring certain works of art from the Museum of Contemporary Art throughout neighborhoods in Panama City. The project began as a collaboration between the Panama City-based Museum of Contemporary Art and Ayarza. Hoping to showcase certain pieces that may not have permanent space in the museum itself, the team decided to create a sustainable way to bring a selection of contemporary art collections to people in various locations throughout the city. They did this by turning to recycled shipping containers. Related: Spectacular new shipping container museum nestles near China’s Great Wall Towed on the flatbed of a truck, the lightweight Wandering Museum travels easily through the city streets. While it is on the road, the traveling museum is instantly recognizable thanks to its multicolored design. Bright stripes of red, orange and green cover the shipping containers’ exteriors, bringing a fun, vibrant feel to the project. Once parked, the shipping containers are laid out in a perpendicular formation. The entrance is through one end of the first shipping container, which is painted black inside. This is the main exhibition space, with a  minimalist atmosphere that emits the same contemporary style of the permanent museum. The second shipping container has interior walls that are clad in a low-cost particle board with various shelves. There is also a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard, where visitors can leave messages. An entire side of the container can be completely left open, inviting art-lovers to explore the interior contents while also socializing in the make-shift courtyard space between the two structures. + Héctor Ayarza Via ArchDaily Photography by Fernando Alda via Héctor Ayarza

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Roaming shipping container museum brings contemporary art through Panama

4 ways to cut campus food waste, from colleges to corporates

October 7, 2019 by  
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From data to design, there are ways that we can take a bite out of food waste in the restaurant sector.

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Taco Bell launches new menu for vegetarians

September 12, 2019 by  
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While in-the-know vegetarians have navigated Taco Bell’s menu for years, the fast food chain is moving plant-based food to the forefront with an official vegetarian section on its menu. The new menu debuts Thursday, Sept. 12 at Taco Bell’s 7,000 U.S. restaurants . Only two of the items in the vegetarian section are new: the Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme and a Black Bean Quesarito. But clearly, marking the items as vegetarian makes ordering a much easier experience for customers who eat a plant-based diet. Related: KFC partners with Beyond Meat for vegan chicken nuggets The Black Bean Quesarito ($2.99) consists of black beans, seasoned rice, chipotle sauce, cheese, nacho cheese sauce and reduced-fat sour cream rolled up in a flour tortilla. Popular upgrades include jalapenos, pico de gallo and guacamole. The Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme ($3.69) adds lettuce and tomato to black beans, nacho cheese sauce and reduced-fat sour cream and serves it in a crispier tortilla. Other vegetarian menu items include three kinds of burritos, a tostada, the veggie power menu bowl, cheesy roll-ups and beans and rice. A green emblem on the new menu signifies that the American Vegetarian Association has certified Taco Bell’s vegetarian food items for people who “are lacto-ovo, allowing consumption of dairy and eggs but not animal byproducts.” But strict vegetarians should beware the fryer. The menu has this disclaimer: “We may use the same frying oil to prepare menu items that could contain meat . Vegetarian and meat ingredients are handled in common, and cross contact may occur, which may not be acceptable to certain types of vegetarian diets.” Taco Bell plans to “further innovate in this growing space,” the restaurant said in a press release. Unlike other fast food restaurants that are embracing imitation meat made by Beyond Meat , Taco Bell is, so far, sticking with less-processed whole foods, like black and pinto beans. Beans are also inexpensive, allowing Taco Bell to sell burritos for as little as one dollar. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has a handy guide on its website for vegans eating at Taco Bell. The magic words “fresco style” mean that instead of cheese and dairy-heavy sauces, you want pico de gallo and guacamole. + Taco Bell Via CNN Image via Taco Bell

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Taco Bell launches new menu for vegetarians

EPA promises an end to animal testing

September 12, 2019 by  
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Animal rights activists are rejoicing this week. On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a move to “aggressively reduce animal testing” and to stop funding mammal tests by 2035. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler promised to reduce new mammal tests by 30 percent by 2025 and pledged $4.25 million toward developing non-animal alternatives for testing chemical safety. “Part of why I’m doing this today is because it’s been 30 years and we haven’t made enough progress,” said Wheeler, who wrote an anti- animal testing op-ed for his college paper in 1987. Related: California becomes the first state to ban animal-tested cosmetics However, some people question the federal agency’s motives. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) suggested the decision had more to do with reducing costs for chemical companies required to do expensive animal tests rather than helping animals. “Phasing out foundational scientific testing methods can make it much harder to identify toxic chemicals — and protect human health ,” said Jennifer Sass, senior scientist for the NRDC’s Healthy People and Thriving Communities program. Some scientists worry that mathematical modeling and other non-animal testing approaches won’t effectively replicate the human physiological system. As People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) pointed out in a tweet, “PETA worked with the EPA for decades to prevent rabbits, mice, rats and dogs from having to ingest or inhale toxic chemicals .” The animal rights group is confident that modern alternative models will effectively protect humans, animals and the environment. “PETA will be helping regulatory agencies and companies switch to efficient and effective, non-animal testing approaches and working toward a day when all animal tests are only found in history books,” Amy Clippinger, director of PETA’s Regulatory Testing Department, said in an EPA press release. Many people are disturbed by the pain and cruelty of animal testing, leading to bipartisan efforts to decrease its use. During Obama’s presidency, the Toxic Substances Control Act was amended, calling for the EPA to reduce animal testing. Via EcoWatch Image via Tiburi

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