Pizza 4P’s is trying to carry out environmentally-conscious projects step by step in order to achieve the vision “Make the World Smile for Peace”. We started our original article series “Peace for Earth” focusing on such sustainable projects in our company.
The topic of this article will focus on Zero Waste. In July 2021, Pizza 4P’s opened its first overseas store in Cambodia, in the capital city of Phnom Penh, and its store concept was zero-waste. In the previous articles, we have mainly introduced the process of opening this store in Cambodia, but in this article, we will focus on the specific actions taken after the opening and share the behind-the-scenes of the zero-waste restaurant practice in Cambodia.
Food wastes are food for the black soldier fly
Among the types of waste generated from our restaurants, food waste accounts for more than half of total waste, such as discarded ingredients from the cooking process and leftover food from customers.
This time, we decided to partner with Ruy Reach to recycle food waste from our store in Cambodia. They are a company that farms fly larvae called black soldier flies. The larvae are dried and sold as food for fish and shrimp.
One of the best things about black soldier flies is that they will eat anything except hard food. This includes greasy food scraps that are not usually suitable for composting, sauced food, and leftover food from customers. Currently, they collect most of the food scraps from our store in Cambodia and reuse them to feed the black soldier flies.
The company also collects paper waste from our kitchen, especially the kitchen paper. They mix the paper waste into the soil where the black soldier flies are grown, they can create a better growing environment for the black soldier flies.
Discarded pizza dough becomes food for crickets
Currently, most of the food waste is collected as food for the Black Soldier Flies, but the discarded pizza dough is collected separately by Ecology, a cricket farming company based in Cambodia, and is reused as food for the crickets.
The company cultivates edible crickets in Cambodia and sells processed products (powder, extract, etc.) made from the crickets to the Japanese market. Although not as good as the Black Soldier Fly, crickets are also very appetizing, and we decided to collaborate with them because they were willing to collect waste pizza dough.
Pizza dough tends to be discarded due to poor fermentation or the need to test bake it to check the temperature of the oven. Pizza 4P’s is very grateful for the opportunity to reuse the dough as food for crickets, as it accounts for a large percentage of all food waste.
Seashells, crab shells, and eggshells are used to feed chickens
We were able to get most of the food scraps recycled as food for the black soldier flies and crickets mentioned above. However, the remaining issue is the “hard stuff” that they cannot eat such as clam shells, crab shells, and eggshells. Clams, in particular, are heavily used in Pizza 4P’s pasta and other menu items, so the amount of discarded clam shells is large, and since the shells are very hard, it was difficult to find a way to reuse them.
In the end, Pizza 4P’s was able to convert all of these shells into powder using a large mixer and give it to a poultry farm to be reused as chicken feed. Currently, all eggs used in our store in Cambodia are purchased from Eggscellent, a cage-free chicken farm in Siem Reap. In order to implement zero-waste, we asked Eggscellent for their cooperation and were able to reuse the shell powder. The powder made from the shells is an important source of calcium for the hens to lay new eggs, so we were able to build a win-win relationship for both parties.
Eat and Learn: The Circular Economy
Our store in Cambodia has a special pizza that is not available at the Vietnamese store. It is called “Smoked Fish and Egg sauce, served with Cricket spice – Creative reuse waste pizza”.
The special feature of this pizza is that it is made from ingredients that are fed with garbage from our restaurant. The toppings include cricket powder from Ecology raised on discarded pizza dough, cage-free eggs from Eggscellent raised on shell powder, and tilapia fed on organic arugula that was damaged and had to be discarded.
In other words, it can be said that this is a “circular pizza” in which what would have been discarded as garbage from 4P’s is recycled, and then returned to 4P’s as an ingredient. It is not a linear relationship from the place of production to the place of consumption, but a circular system that can return resources from the place of consumption to the place of production. I hope that the guests in our store in Cambodia will actually try this pizza and think about the society where the circular economy will be realized.
Plastic waste is recycled into building materials
Plastic waste is one of those trash items that is hard to separate from the rest. In the case of Pizza 4P’s, semi-foods such as pasta sauce from the central kitchen and homemade cheese from the cheese factory in Dalat, Vietnam, are all wrapped in plastic waste.
For the opening of the store in Cambodia, we decided to cooperate with Gomi Recycle, a company that has been dealing with the garbage problem in Cambodia for many years and has operated almost the first large-scale recycling facility in the country, and have them recycle the plastic garbage from the store.
The company has plastic waste recycling plants in Svay Rieng Province and Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone, which can recycle plastic waste into building materials. The company has already had many successes in Japan, and many of the building materials recycled from plastic waste are being used for fences and benches in national parks, which require durability.
Currently, plastic waste from our store is transported once a week to their factory in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone to be recycled.
Chipped plates are repaired and reused
A few months after we opened our Cambodian restaurant, we found out that we had a lot of chipped and broken plates. These plates had been stored in the warehouse as they had to be thrown away for risk of injuring customers. However, when we added up the cost of purchasing all the plates, we found out that the total cost was $600.
We decided to visit Khmer Ceramics, a company that makes plates, to see if we could reuse them somehow. When we showed the plate to the Cambodian craftsman, he was very dexterous and repaired the chipped part by filing and repainting it well.
We couldn’t repair a plate that had been split in half, but I knew I could repair and reuse it if it was only slightly chipped. It is a beautiful thing to repair the damaged part and reuse it.
Cooperation with local waste pickers is also essential
In Cambodia, there are waste pickers who make a living by collecting recyclable waste and selling it to recycling companies. Since there are almost no recycling factories in Cambodia, they often sell the collected waste to middlemen, who in turn sell it to recycling factories in neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Thailand. Here in Cambodia, we don’t have the detailed sorting and collection system, but thanks to their efforts, we can see that things that are worth money are being collected properly.
It is essential for Pizza 4P’s Cambodia to cooperate with them. Some of them are individual waste pickers and some of them operate as small companies, and they collect various kinds of garbage such as cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, and aluminum cartons from the stores.
The most important action: Reduce
So far, we have been focusing on how to reuse the waste that is generated, but the most important aspect of practicing zero-waste is to avoid generating waste in the first place. In other words, this is the “reduce” part of the 3Rs.
At Pizza 4P’s in Vietnam, there are many items that could not be immediately reduced due to past practices. However, since the store in Cambodia is starting from scratch, they have been reducing anything that might be a barrier to achieving zero-waste.
Reduce is a very simple action that is not so visible to the customers, but it is actually the most effective zero-waste action because it requires much less cost and effort than recycling.
Eliminate wet wipes and paper napkins
The reduced action is mainly seen in the items that are always available at the customer’s table. At Pizza 4P’s in Vietnam, individually wrapped wet wipes and paper napkins are always available at the table for customers to avoid any inconvenience during their meal, but in Cambodia, we decided to stop doing this.
Wet wipes can be substituted with hand towels. The hand towel can be used many times by washing it. As for paper napkins, we already have cloth table napkins, so we decided that it would not be a problem to keep them on hand. Of course, if a customer requests them, we will provide them individually. In fact, after the opening of the Cambodian store, we found that there was no problem at all with this method. On the Vietnamese side, a large amount of wet wipes and paper napkins are produced every day, so being able to prevent this waste from being produced in the first place was a very big step.
Reduce food loss
In addition, our store in Cambodia has started to work on reducing food loss as much as possible. By using scraps of food that would normally be thrown away in the preparation stage for other dishes, the overall food loss rate can be reduced. For example, in collaboration with an herbal tea company called Demeter, the peels of citrus fruits such as oranges and limes are dried and served as herbal tea.
Achieved 90.6% waste diversion rate
As a result of these efforts, we were already able to avoid 90.6% of the garbage from going to the landfill by the end of September, two months after the opening. The breakdown is as follows: the total amount of garbage for one week at the end of September was 434.45kg, the amount of garbage that had to be sent to the landfill was 9.6kg, and the remaining 424.85kg was reused in the same way as mentioned above.
So, what kind of things are included in the garbage that had to be sent to the landfill? Currently, there are disposable rubber gloves, broken plates, non-wovens masks, kitchen paper, candle trash, and trash brought in by customers. We have not yet found a way to reduce or reuse these trash, and we continue to search for a better way. Yuki, who works as a zero-waste manager at the Cambodian store, said about the zero-waste practice.
“In Cambodia, there is no custom of separating garbage, so it was quite a challenge to get the staff to help us sort through 20 types of garbage. Some of them didn’t know which ones were plastic and which ones were rubber, but we taught them one by one, and now they all understand the types of garbage and are cooperating in sorting them”.
Although we have not yet achieved 100% zero-waste, we have received positive comments from our customers such as “20 types of waste separation in Cambodia is amazing”, “Thank you for addressing the issues in Cambodia”.
It is not an easy task to achieve zero-waste in restaurants. As restaurants handle the food that customers eat, food hygiene and infection control must be absolutely observed. Furthermore, because of the brand that we have built up in Vietnam, we cannot compromise on the quality of our food and service at all. If we were to go into lockdown and not be able to open the restaurant, our budget for Zero Waste would be drastically reduced. Nevertheless, we would be happy if we could contribute to making people in Cambodia think about waste even a little through our efforts. In the future, we would like to further promote waste reduction, including at our stores in Vietnam.