How green is your lunch?

Publication date

Monday, July 17, 2017

Approval date

Monday, July 17, 2017

There may be some people who still prepare their own snacks before they set off for work but for increasing numbers lunch in the office means a sandwich and a cup of coffee bought from the local café or supermarket.

The question then arises what happens to all the packaging once lunch is over? Two firms - a start-up and one of the best established names on the high street - believe they have at least part of the answer.

In a first for UK supermarkets, triangular sandwich wrappers in Waitrose are to be made easier to recycle, by making the cardboard sandwich packaging easy to separate from the plastic film, as this is not recyclable.

So even if customers throw the whole pack away, processors will now be able to separate the paper element from the film more easily and, given that over 26 million sandwiches are bought from Waitrose shops each year, that is a lot of recycled packaging.

Meanwhile a start-up called Biobean has had an innovative idea of what to do with all the coffee waste left behind after people collect their takeaway drinks - turn it into liquid fuel and use it to run buses.

The firm's founder, Arthur Kay, was recently named Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2017 BusinessGreen Leaders Awards, where he was praised for developing his ideas into a company with 40 employees that provides an industrial-scale solution to the problem of coffee waste while reducing carbon emissions.

Every year, Biobean recycles hundreds of tonnes of spent coffee grounds.

"We are going through a period of energy divergence where we are moving from a fossil-fuel based society to one that is increasingly diversified," Mr Kay said. "Bio-fuel will be crucial to that."

His ambition is to see some of London's iconic red buses running on the coffee grounds left behind by the capital's workers and tourists.