Chef Luke Holder has sparked debate over the amount of plastic used in kitchens and is hoping to club together colleagues to tackle the war on single-use plastic next year.
The co-head chef of Hartnett Holder & Co, alongside Angela Hartnett at the five-AA-star Lime Wood hotel in the New Forest told The Caterer that he has been “secretly frustrated about the plastic footprint within the hotel” for some time. Watching the BBC One programme Blue Planet II reinstated Holder’s anger when he saw the damage it was doing to marine life.
According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year due to plastic-related injuries or consumption.
He said: “As it gets busier and busier you find yourself decanting things all the time. Broccoli is a good example. We will buy 12-15 boxes every three days, which are separated into 500g packs. We are constantly cutting them out, so I said to my head chef that we should start engaging with people about the problem. Then when Blue Planet aired I thought it was just ridiculous and something had to be done. It’s the senseless plastic, the one-time cellophane rolled stuff that drives me insane.”
Holder tweeted an image of some of the plastic waste taken away from a delivery of broccoli with the caption “Let’s stop all this nonsense.” It’s been retweeted over 100 times and liked by 300 people.
Let’s stop all this nonsense #chefsagainstplastic @AngelaHartnett @ChefTomKerridge @Rick_Stein @RichardBertinet @PaulAinsw6rth @MarkEHix @TimeToCook @RobinHutson @jameswellock @MitchTonks @MTomkinsonChef @mattprowse pic.twitter.com/Ie8P02wtV7
— Luke (@Luke__Holder) December 12, 2017
“Since I started this campaign people have really started to respond to it and it’s started to get a life of its own.” Holder added. “People are coming to me asking how we can tackle this issue, but it’s the middle of our busiest period. I’ve spoken to everyone who has shown interest and asked if we could reconvene in January. Then maybe we could get some suppliers, producers and chefs together to make a change and see what everyone’s opinion is and see if we can start driving things forward.”
Chefs include Tom Kerridge, Nathan Outlaw, Sabrina Ghayour and Gizzi Erskine are eager to get behind the campaign, while suppliers such as Wellocks have already started to implement plastic-free deliveries. Guests at Lime Wood have also started to show interest in supporting the cause.
— James Wellock (@jameswellock) December 12, 2017
“Collective movement creates effective change, but it needs to be led from the top,” said Holder.”If we as a group of purchasers come together and demand that our suppliers start working with producers who don’t use one-use plastic, if we get all of the top dogs talking about it in the right way and putting pressure on the suppliers to put pressure on the producers, then that is what is going to make the change.”
Holder hopes that the issue will be taken seriously and go further than the kitchen doors. “Now there’s a bit of momentum I’m thinking ‘could we lobby government? Could we start looking at tax incentives as an incentive to make corporations and businesses motivated to cut down on their plastic waste?’ There are ways and means of measuring waste, but now I’ve put my foot in the pool and every time I try to reach the bottom I realise it’s deeper and deeper. It’s a massive issue.”
The campaign is expected to launch in January with a meeting between chefs and suppliers. “Sometimes if you bring the people that are in touching distance around you then together you can make something happen.”
Over the past few months Redcomb Pubs, JD Wetherspoon, the Alchemist, Oakman Inns and the Liberation Group have all banned the use of plastic straws in order to reduce their plastic waste. Over the past 25 years disposable straws have routinely been one of the top 10 items found on beaches around the world during the International Coastal clean-up project.
In October Pret A Manger launched a trial to see if it could reduce the “millions of tonnes [of plastic] ending up in oceans each year” by taking plastic bottles off shelves in two of its London stores. The Veggie Pret in Exmouth Market and on Broadwick Street encouraged customers to fill up their bottles for free using new filtered water stations and offered two sizes of glass bottles for sale.
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