Chantelle Nicholson asks why the industry is so unsustainable when it comes to equipment.
The notion of a circular economy (a system aimed at eliminating waste and ensuring the continual use of resources) is something that perhaps circles back to the processes and practices that happened many years ago: reuse, repair, repurpose and regenerate.
Those of us of a certain age will remember when appliances would last for years (my Nana had a 40-year-old Kenwood kitchen mixer that still worked perfectly) and you wouldn't think about replacing them until they were practically irreparable.
The rise of Amazon et al has meant that often it is seemingly a lot more convenient – and cost-effective – to purchase something new, rather than find a way to repair it. While this may be a short-term gain, long-term it creates an excessive amount of waste material and directly contradicts circular principles.
When you take a step back, it makes so much sense that things are repaired, repurposed and shared, thus utilised to the best of their capacity. Why take up time, materials and supply chain logistics to create new ‘stuff' when so much already exists?
Why take up time, materials and supply chain logistics to create new ‘stuff' when so much already exists?
This is directly related to our industry – restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels and other hospitality venues come and go continuously, and each time, more ‘stuff' is both disposed of and purchased simultaneously. I am sure a lot of kitchens have a cupboard brimming with equipment they no longer use or things that no longer work but that they cannot bear to throw away as they cost quite a bit in the first place (I have one of them!).
I have seen and heard of numerous hospitality refurbishments where a lot of fixtures, fittings and equipment have just gone into a skip – sometimes simply because the operator cannot be bothered to take the time to find an alternative. Yet, there are many valuable resources that could be used elsewhere and could support other businesses, as well as providing a starting point for would-be operators.
Imagine a library of sorts, where you borrowed a piece of equipment – perhaps to try one out before purchasing one, or for a new dish you wanted to put on the menu for a month or so. Or if your kitchen mixer needed to be repaired, you could borrow one from the ‘library' for the time it took to get yours fixed. This concept could create some great jobs and apprenticeship opportunities. And to create a fully circular model, a pedal-powered collection and drop-off could also create business transactions for city-based operations.
Yes, secondhand marketplaces such as Gumtree, Shpock, eBay and Facebook marketplace all list numerous amounts of catering equipment and restaurant furniture, but wouldn't it be great if there was an industry-specific library where you could rent to buy, buy outright or just borrow for a short period of time? If ever there was a time to do it, I would think it was now. So, any budding entrepreneurs with a fix-it mentality – what are you waiting for?!
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