Plastic has had its day in the sun in London restaurants.
Skye Gyngell of Spring — located in Somerset House — has pledged to reduce the use of plastic in her restaurant. Her long-term goal is to eliminate plastic from the site entirely by the end of 2018.
As Gyngell herself notes, the ubiquity of plastic makes this much easier said than done. Plastic straws have already been vanquished, in line with restaurants including El Pastor, Quo Vadis, Cub, The Clove Club and Hawksmoor. The latter posted a timely reminder of its early adoption this week, likely in line with the Last Straw campaign from The Evening Standard. That being said, the straw is far from the last to go: clingfilm is a kitchen standby tough to replace, with Spring looking into biodegradable alternatives; plastic containers used for storage and mise-en-place will also be rejected.
Gyngell’s initiative backs up the commitment to a more sustainable model of restaurant operations showcased by her "Scratch Menu", which launched in 2016. The menu highlights parts of common ingredients more often thrown away, applying a nose-to-tail approach to vegetables, cheese and bread as well as meat, all in tandem with a glut of pickled or fermented produce. Talking about her new initiative, Gyngell said:
I gained such an insight on the effect that plastic has on our planet, that it got me thinking about how we could try and do something as a restaurant to reduce this footprint for future generations. I looked at Spring and was simply overwhelmed by the amount of plastic we use – it’s everywhere, from something so simple as a recipe file to clingfilm. I wanted the elimination of plastic at Spring to be our new goal for 2018.’
Sian Sutherland, of grassroots organisation A Plastic Planet, will consult on the project. Large restaurant groups have also been quick on the uptake, with D&D London (40 restaurants strong) and Wagamama both moving to ban straws. Gyngell’s initiative looks to be one of the first in London, and with government legislation on plastics and takeaway cups in the public consciousness, it’s far from unlikely that others will follow suit.