Bury St Edmunds waste reduction and recycling champion Karen Cannard visits The Infusions Group, in Rougham, to check on its green credentials
This month, I caught up with The Infusions Group in Rougham, a food company that prides itself on its environmental credentials, having been awarded the Suffolk Silver Carbon Charter, taking a gold award at the Bury Local Links initiative and being shortlisted for the environmental award for the past two years in the Bury Free Press Business Awards.
The Group features three key strands: Infusions Ltd, a dry goods store supplying hotels and restaurants across East Anglia; www.Infusions4chefs.co.uk, an e-commerce site selling over 5,000 food related products to professional and hobby chefs, and the ICE Café, Cook School and Development Kitchen.
As a business they are always trying to reduce their environmental impact and they are currently undergoing a huge project to reduce their carbon footprint further and improve their recycling, particularly key as their newICE Café is opening this spring.
I was keen to discover how the company is tackling its waste.
With such a diverse business what steps has Infusions taken so far to reduce waste?
A great change to the business has to be the introduction of the compactor. Any spare cardboard or clear plastic is compacted, stored and sold on. Every cardboard box from deliveries is used for deliveries and for storage. Compost bins are being introduced to account for any food waste, particularly from the café. Single use plastics have been eradicated from the business; paper straws, biodegradable packaging and wooden takeaway cutlery are used in the café and Ecoffee cups are sold and encouraged. In 2018, we moved from a paper-based picking system to electronic scanners meaning we save a huge amount of paper and we are rapidly trying to move towards our ultimate ambition of being a paperless business wherever possible.
As a business, why has this been important and what have been the benefits?
Where to start! The obvious benefits have to be that money is saved from our recycling. Selling what’s compacted pays for the use of the compactor, making recycling an economic benefit to us and not just the environment. The no-plastic scheme has also saved us so much waste going into the bins, and made everyone in the business more aware of what can be recycled.
Have there been any hurdles?
As far as we’re aware there haven’t been any hurdles. It was a new process setting up the compactor, but aside from that the staff have got right on board with the recycling in the business and have continued doing so, although we still have areas we are targeting for improvement in the coming weeks such as the introduction of compost bins.
Do you make your customers aware of your aims and your achievements so far? If so, how?
Probably not as much as we should, to be honest, but we are working on that. We are particularly proud of the work we have done in ICE and we run special customer incentives, notably a free coffee when they buy one of our reusable bamboo cups. As mentioned, all deliveries are sent out in recycled boxes, and with over 100 deliveries daily, it’s a strong message being sent out. Most members of staff also own an Ecoffee cup or an equivalent, and even Jo Churchill MP has bought one and uses it in Westminster!
Do you support or get involved with any national or local waste reduction campaigns/initiatives?
We are primarily following a no-plastic scheme. At a time where there is a plastic epidemic estimated to be treble the problem within a decade, it wasn’t a hard decision for us to stop using plastic.
What are your bin slimming ambitions for 2019?
Obviously, food management is something huge to us here at Infusions, cooking fresh food daily with a huge desire not to waste any. With the addition of a compost bin and a garden waste bin, we plan to stay on top of it and hope to inspire customers and staff alike to do the same at home. Fewer waste bin collections is the main goal, as there is no need for so much unnecessary waste.
More information can be found at www.infusionsgroup.com Follow on Twitter @infusionsgroup for further news, including details of the opening of the new ICE Café.