What goes around… green shops aid borough’s circular economy pledge

Eco-friendly Islington businesses lead the way on reducing waste

Friday, 21st January — By Charlotte Chambers

Christian Schenal at Aperi deli

Christian Schenal in the Caledonian Road deli

A DELI in Caledonian Road has been refilling people’s olive oil bottles and reusing customer containers in a bid to reduce waste – as Islington launched its ambitious plans to have a circular economy by 2030.

Aperi deli opened three years ago when two Italians – friends since primary school – decided to follow their dream and start selling imported goods from their home country.

But a part of their vision, according to Christian Schenal, was to reuse things such as their whiskey barrel tables and wine box shelves and drive down their use of plastic as much as possible.

The pair, who believe in using the most sustainable methods possible when running their company, called out other takeaway companies using plastic containers and urged everyone to use recycled paper ones instead.

Explaining the idea behind having refillable oil, Mr Schenal said back home in Italy it was very common for people to refill their olive oil, and that they were now looking to expand their refillable stock to include some dried goods such as beans and chickpeas. He said around half the customers who bought olive oil with them refilled it.

“I do worry about the environment and I try and do the best I can – to be honest, I don’t understand why the other takeaways don’t use 100 per cent recyclable packaging for their food,” he added.

Meanwhile, at pet shop Cally Pets next door to the deli, shop worker Stan Mark joked about putting a sign up asking “do you really need a bag for that?”

Stan Mark at Cally Pets

He said he had just switched from plastic bags to paper ones but while waiting for the order to arrive he had been “borrowing” biodegradable bags from a well-known supermarket.

Mr Mark, who lives in Church Street, a market street in west London, said at the end of a market day there were plastic bags everywhere – including flapping in the trees, and called on the government to ban them entirely.

He warned that the younger generation needed to take a lead on climate change as he had noticed it was older customers asking for paper bags or just carrying their things home without a bag at all.

“It annoys me when someone comes in to buy one small thing and they ask for a bag – do they really need it?” he added.

He reflected that other countries such as Japan had a much better track record on recycling – and called on the authorities to be much stricter in their expectations of how people execute their recycling.

The circular economy is one where consumerism – the need to keep buying things – is replaced with repairing things, sharing things and making things that last longer.

Islington declared a ­Climate Emergency in 2019 and want to be a zero carbon borough by 2030.

At Thursday’s full council meeting they set out how they wanted their circular economy ideas of reusing and recycling to be “embedded” in everything they do, from how they design their buildings to ensure fewer materials are shipped from far away to transforming their fleet of cars from petrol to electric.

Councillor Gary Heather, who sits on the environment committee, called on people to reuse, reduce and recycle as much as possible to lower the amount of waste going to landfill or incineration – currently the borough only recycles 30 per cent of its waste.

Cllr Heather wants to see at least 50 per cent recycled and more creative ways to “get rid” of rubbish so that incineration can be “phased out”.

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