It’s all in the packaging
Environmentally friendly practices make their mark on the Lebanese restaurant business
Whoever tends to have food delivered by one of the many Food and Beverage (F&B) outlets in Lebanon will have grown accustomed to the sight of heaps of plastic or cardboard containers, boxes, bags and utensils used to package and serve their meals and meal accompaniments, all designed to deliver the food in an efficient, convenient and aesthetically pleasing way.
Accentuated by the recent waste management crisis engulfing Lebanon, customers are often left feeling uneasy at the sight of so much trash being generated simply by having meals delivered. Some restaurant operators in Lebanon have felt the same, understanding that they are contributing to the problem by generating so much plastic waste through packaging. As a result, some have wisely chosen to use ecologically friendly packaging instead.
Inspired by the recent surge of interest in recycling, upcycling and reusing in Lebanon, Executive talked to two restaurants who use ecofriendly packaging in their delivery and in-house services to discover what sparked their interest in adopting these practices, what difficulties they have faced and what the customer response has been thus far.
INTRODUCING BENTO AND BIODEGRADABLE PACKAGING
Bento, meaning lunchbox in Japanese, is a contemporary international cuisine restaurant next to the Adlieh roundabout which opened four months ago and is the brainchild of Joyce Badran, an engineer with a background in environmental sciences. Bento is Badran’s first venture in the F&B business, grounded in her passion for cooking with a menu developed based on inspiration from her world travels.
The core of Bento’s operation is its delivery service and as such Badran has given a lot of thought to packaging. “I focused on packaging because I used to order a lot of food when I was working in Lebanon and everything used to arrive in plastic. I didn’t like that and felt bad throwing so much unrecyclable plastic away. So I worked on finding packaging that can be recycled,” says Badran.
Bento’s salads, appetizers and soups come in recyclable heavy duty carton while the utensils are made of wood. Sandwiches and bagels come in biodegradable plastic bags and all meals are delivered in kraft paper boxes and bags. The only items Badran uses plastic packaging for are the hot dishes such as pastas, since the only carton containers for hot dishes she was able to find in Lebanon leaked while on delivery to customers.
INTRODUCING JARS & CO: FOOD ITEMS IN GLASS JARS
Claude Berti, owner of Jars & Co, is a jeweler by profession with no prior experience in F&B before the launch of Jars & Co in Monot, Ashrafieh, over a year ago. While Berti was browsing online, she was inspired by the different uses for glass jars and came up with the idea of serving salads in jars. “Eating salads out of a jar means that people can shake it, thus mixing the dressing with the entire salad and having the salad items properly mixed together instead of having to eat each item alone,” says Berti, adding that another bonus is that the jars are eco friendly, an aspect that solidified her decision to use them for her new F&B concept.
From salads, Jars & Co developed into having all kinds of food items