It’s all in the pack­ag­ing

En­vi­ron­men­tally friendly prac­tices make their mark on the Le­banese res­tau­rant busi­ness

Executive Magazine - - Hospitality & Tourism - By Na­bila Rah­hal

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

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