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A restaurant experience like no other: Full taste and zero waste

Silo: A London restaurant experience like no other: Full taste and zero waste

A silo flooding with imagination

What if you could reuse everything? That’s a question Silo answers every day. Based in East London, Silo is the world’s first zero-waste restaurant.

It all started when Douglas McMaster, Silo’s founder and acclaimed chef, was challenged by a sustainable artist, Joost Bakker, to create a restaurant without a bin. Douglas took on the challenge in 2011, starting with a zero-waste pop-up café in Sydney. When he came back to the UK in 2014, Silo was first created in Brighton.

Since 2016, the restaurant has been relocated to London, where diners can enjoy zero-waste meals in a repurposed warehouse in Hackney Wick.

"We are the world’s first zero waste restaurant and aim to innovate the food industry whilst demonstrating respect: respect for the environment, respect for the way food is generated and respect for the nourishment we give to our bodies."

Douglas McMaster, Founder and Head Chef at Silo

Think about the last time you went to a restaurant and imagine zero waste generated throughout the process. Pretty tough, right?

For Douglas, it doesn’t have to be. He sees waste as a failure of the imagination. At Silo, you’ll taste creativity and experience dining created by the wildest imagination.

Zero waste from start to finish

Before you’ve even had your first bite, you’ll see zero-waste principles being implemented. That starts with their decorations made from upcycled materials that would otherwise be wasted.

As you make your way to your table, you will enter a bright room illuminated by wall lights made from crushed wine bottles and walk across a flooring made from corks. The table you will sit at is made from reconstituted food packaging, and your food will be served in plates that were previously plastic bags.

When it comes to the food, all of the restaurant’s ingredients arrive in reusable and returnable packaging. That requires working with suppliers as committed to zero waste as they are.

The restaurant has a flour mill to make bread, churns its butter, and rolls its oats. Do you know many restaurants that do that? The minimal waste from the ingredients sourced directly from farmers or the plates of its customers is either composted or fermented.

With every ingredient and through every plate, Silo is working to eliminate waste from our food system and demonstrate how resources can be maximised.

A win for pallets, planet and profit

Through their efforts, Silo is demonstrating that closed-loop and sustainable cooking can be synonymous with quality.

They have received the Michelin Green Star, an award that recognises restaurants raising environmental standards in the industry and collaborating with their supply chain to do so. Creating a zero-waste fine dining experience while elevating sustainability standards requires a lot of imagination, and Silo is inspiring the rest of the industry by showing what is possible.

In a fiercely competitive industry, especially in London, where restaurants come and go, environmental responsibility has to be paired with financial sustainability.

For Douglas, zero-waste is not just a way to achieve quality and environmental sustainability. It is also an economic proposition to reduce costs.

“Food waste is profit waste. When other industries cotton on to the idea that zero waste design is economically advantageous, that will be a real moment of change.”

According to him, most restaurants will have 10% of profit, with costs evenly split between food, staff, and fixed costs.

With Silo’s zero-waste philosophy, they have been able to drive down food costs significantly. Those designing out waste from industries can profit from these sustainability initiatives.

That is precisely what Silo is demonstrating, pairing environmental with financial sustainability and inspiring the growth of other zero-waste businesses.

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