Paddock to Plate – Plate to Paddock: How a restaurant does it

“Now, when the farmers drop off their produce we give them some fertiliser. Last week, my strawberry supplier gave me two trays of beautiful fresh strawberries in exchange for a tub full of fertiliser from the composter.”

Alejandro Cancino – Co-owner and Executive Chef

When Alejandro Cancino decided to move to Brisbane in 2012 he brought with him a strong passion for sustainability alongside his world-renowned culinary reputation. So when he met Andy Buchanan he knew this was the opportunity he’d been looking for and the two are now co-owners of the much-lauded Urbane Group, an icon in the Brisbane dining scene with numerous awards and a substantial reputation.

A GG50s was installed to compost the food waste generated from Urbane restaurant. The two smelly, 1100-litre general waste totes that previously dominated the area have been replaced by two 240L wheelie bins that handle only ‘clean’ general waste such as packaging.

The real innovation is the way in which Urbane makes this and their other sustainability initiatives economical. Urbane introduced an “environmental levy”. Just one dollar per table, and it’s optional so if customers don’t want to pay they don’t have to. But in 12 months only one table didn’t want to pay.

With the environmental levy, it also allows the restaurant to tell their customers what they are doing and show them that they care about the planet. When patrons know what the restaurant is doing, they don’t mind contributing to their sustainability efforts.

“The responsibility starts with us at the restaurant, as we are making and creating the waste. But that’s not to say it just falls on our shoulders.”