The rise of zero waste restaurants

Thursday January 30, 2020
Hand holding green light bulb against nature on green leaf with icons energy sources for renewable, sustainable development

2020 marks the start of an important decade for not only the restaurant industry, but the world. Over-reliance on plastics, burning up of finite fossil fuel resources, and food waste going into landfill are all contributing towards climate change at an alarming rate.

We can’t sit back and ignore the issue any longer. We all need to take steps to help collectively reduce our carbon emissions. The hospitality industry refuses to turn a blind eye to a sustainable future, with the introduction of zero waste restaurants.

Zero waste means exactly that – all ingredients are used up in some way, whether that’s through composting, recycling, or redistribution to food banks and shelters in need. Nothing is thrown away or put into landfill.

Done effectively, it’s both an economical and eco-friendly way to run a food business. Here are 3 great examples of innovative restaurants leading the way in sustainability:

Silo – Hackney Wick (London)


When it comes to respecting the environment, Silo certainly don’t do things by halves. Not only do they use up every part of the ingredients they use, they also forage locally, use plates and cutlery made from renewable materials, compost waste on site, and only use ethical suppliers where needed. They even mill their own flour! It’s this dedication to the cause that has given Silo its stellar reputation as an industry leader in sense and sustainability.

Nine Lives – London Bridge (London)

Interior of Nine Lives bar, with fluffy chairs, green plant and light wood tropical feel
Photo: @ninelivesbar

Here’s the proof that if restaurants can step up and do their bit, so can bars. Nine Lives is a trendy basement cocktail bar that makes drinks with ethically sourced ingredients. Specials are created on the fly by expert bartenders using up leftovers. With fresh fruit and vegetable patches and planters growing out in the back garden, ready for picking, every single aspect of Nine Lives has been carefully considered. It’s inspiring. Similarly, we too should be making conscious decisions towards preventing climate change. No, you don’t need a plastic straw in your cocktail. So you won’t find any here.

Poco – Bristol

Interior of Poco tapas bar in Bristol, with chalk board, wooden tables, flowers, candles and a bottle of wine
Photo: @pocotapasbar

Does the zero waste concept work outside of London? Of course it does. Poco is a tapas bar in Bristol that keeps meticulous track of its food waste, removing any menu dishes that are not being eaten regularly enough. Using locally sourced, seasonal and mostly organic ingredients, nearly 100% of their food waste is composted or recycled. In 2016, Poco received the Sustainable Restaurant of the Year award for their work.

These thriving examples of zero waste businesses prove that it is impossible for existing restaurants to adapt. To change the way they do things for the better. Whether a small independent, or a big restaurant chain, we all have a part to play in preserving our future.

With the ongoing bushfires in Australia essentially speeding up the climate change process, we need a zero tolerance policy towards food waste. The fate of our planet, and our livelihood, quite literally depend on it.