Food Festival underscores challenge of plastic switch

Adjusting to using less plastic is easier for some than others in the food and beverage industry.

At the Insel Fehmarn Food and Wine Festival on Saturday, some food vendors had succeeded in doing with less plastic food packaging for their catering, while others had not, based on the wares they had on display.

The chef and owner of The Curry House, Sabreen Cleverley, said, for now, plastic is the only container that keeps saucy curries properly.

“It’s a bit difficult because we are totally going off plastic,” Ms Cleverley said, about Samoa’s efforts to reduce plastic waste.

“But we are using plastic containers because curry is something I can’t use biodegradable containers for - I tried, it doesn’t work.”

It is a challenge she is sure other eateries are facing too, as the Government moves to ban Styrofoam products in 2020, and may move to outlaw other single use plastics too.

The containers The Curry House uses are plastic but are solid and reusable, though will not last indefinitely.

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Taula beer technician Faapalo Vaaelua said beer can only be poured into plastic or glass, and not paper cups.

“We can never use paper, or foam cups, it doesn’t go well with the beer. These ones go well with the beer flow, and we don’t want to have glasses breaking all over the place,” he said.

“I think for now we are going to stick with these ones [plastic cups] for now.”

For the team behind El Churro Loco, using recyclable plates has been straight forward. Chef Ben Toilolo said it has been easy to switch to cardboard plates, although the plates they buy come wrapped in plastic. 

It’s also a challenge when supplies drop off.

“One thing I have learned in Samoa, which is getting better, is that sometimes when it is out of stock, it is out of stock, and then you have to improvise or just wait until something comes in," he said. 

He said the cost difference moving to recyclable products has not been too steep, and he hasn’t needed to increase the price of churros ($2 each) to account for the switch. 

“We’ve been able to manage fine. I like churros to be affordable, it’s a nice treat. I don’t believe in raising prices just because I can," he said. 

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