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Ripe Deli – Recipes for success and sustainability

How Ripe Deli reduces their environmental impact of doing business.

Jewellery, watches, fancy silverware and furniture are all common family heirlooms kept close to hearts. But around Auckland is another much-loved possession commonly found on coffee tables and in pantries. The Ripe Deli Cookbook, filled with mouth-watering and wholesome recipes and an array of vibrant and colourful images has become a family favourite passed down from parents to children.

Ripe Deli recipes grew to be family favourites and stood the test of time. After fifteen years since opening their doors, their recipes are used by the kids of those early discoverers. Busier than ever with three separate locations in Auckland, two more published cookbooks and a strong catering arm, Ripe Deli has become an institution.

Their recipe for success? It includes more than just wholesome food and heartfelt service. They understand the impact they can have on the community and the environment, so environmental sustainability is well ingrained in the Ripe Deli culture and legacy.

“Sustainability is very important to Ripe, and anything we can do to help lessen the impact of our footprint and impart knowledge to our customers, we wholeheartedly embrace.” 

Love Food Hate Waste

Our country tosses out $872 million worth of food waste a year, the equivalent to the weight of 213 jumbo jets according to Love Food Hate Waste. A large proportion of that waste will likely end up in a landfill, which is not ideal. When food and other organic waste is condemned to landfill, methane gas is produced as the food rots. That methane can escape into the atmosphere, acting as one of the top contributors to global warming, and it is more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Ripe Deli’s business expanded, and so did the food and packaging waste they generated. It was clear that more was needed to be done to continue to operate as sustainably as possible. So in 2016, they partnered with Ecoware to help them switch from traditional food and beverage packaging to eco-friendly, biodegradable and compostable alternatives.

We started with the coffee machine. An existing partnership with Kelmarna Gardens saw much of Ripe Deli’s coffee grinds go to the local community gardens. They also left bags at the front of the store for customers to take home for free. Next was to remove their traditional takeaway coffee cups and lids that were non-recyclable and non-compostable and replace them with EcoCups and lids made from plants and certified compostable.

Moving to the glass display of food heaven; an array of salads, quiches, sandwiches, wraps, cakes, treats and frozen meals – all of this was able to be packaged up and taken home to enjoy. All traditional polystyrene packaging was switched to Ecoware’s bamboo food boxes and paper EcoBowls for hot foods and EcoDeli containers for their cold food options. This range of plant-based packaging is certified compostable.

In the catering arm of their business, they were able to integrate Ecoware’s bamboo plates, bioplastic cutlery and recycled paper napkins. Compostable, eco-friendly solutions enabled them to eliminate plastic packaging from their stores ...and they went on a roll from there. 

Waste is just a resource in the wrong place

Out the back of their Richmond Road store, the Deli now has one of the largest worm farms in Auckland, which a vast majority of their food waste feeds. What cannot be supplied to worms is composted along with Ecoware packaging to divert as much organic waste from landfill as possible. Their current three-bin systems allow customers to return any food/compostable packaging, separate from recycling and general waste. Their long-term goal is to get to a point where they no longer have a general waste bin – achieving the ultimate goal of zero-waste to landfill.

Organic waste collector, WE COMPOST, collects this food and packaging waste once a week and takes it to the nearest commercial compost facility. The result is nutrient-rich compost and diversion from landfill – a simple business decision that makes a world of difference. Today, WE COMPOST are collecting an average of around 3000 litres of organic waste per month, which is approximately 12 tonnes per year!

Furthermore, milk bottles are either recycled or reused to hold the worm tea produced from worm farming. Worm tea is an incredible nutrient to the home garden, which they sell for $4. All proceeds from this initiative are donated to WWF (World Wildlife Fund) helping save our native Maui Dolphin from extinction. 

Committed to community and environmental sustainability

Ripe Deli has embraced compostable packaging as a critical part of its sustainability strategy, but they also support the reusables movement. Customers receive a discount when they bring in a Keep Cup for the coffee. There is also the opportunity to purchase a glass weck jar to keep, which they will happily serve salads in to take away. When these jars are purchased, 50 cents is discounted o the meal.

Ripe Deli is creating a legacy of environmental sustainability in their community, and Ecoware is proud to be part of their journey. What can we learn from their recipe for success? Jewellery, watches, fancy silverware and even cookbooks can become objects of sentimental value, passed down through generations. It’s this level of love and appreciation that we should all have for our natural environment in order to preserve it for future generations. Everyone can make an e ort to reduce waste and live more sustainably. Collectively, we make a big difference in leaving behind a healthy environment for our kids and their kids.