As Skern Lodge joins Surfers Against Sewage's plastic-free community, Karen talks to Catering Manager Becky van der Zalm about their passion to keep our coastlines clean and plastic-free.
Karen: Hi Becky, thank you for talking to me today. It's great to hear you've joined the plastic-free community and I look forward to finding out more. But first, could you give me a bit of a background to Skern Lodge?
Becky: Certainly. Skern Lodge is a multi-award-winning outdoor activity and development centre based in North Devon. We are an independent, privately-owned organisation committed to the highest standards in all aspects of our business. We provide a wide range of training courses and events.
Karen: Thank you. And how did your association with Surfers Against Sewage come about?
Becky: Our Senior Instructor at Skern Lodge, Simon Luck, is a keen surfer and kayak coach. He sees first-hand the impact of consumerism on the environment. We have worked hard over the past 40 years to ensure that our impact on the environment in all activity locations we use is kept to a minimum. We're very passionate about our community and actively campaign for cleaner coastlines, with many staff getting involved in beach cleans all year round.
Karen: That's fantastic! I understand you've been using BioPak's plastic-free catering disposables for some time. What is the key driver in your decision to use eco-friendly catering disposables?
Becky: We love our coastline, and so do our guests. We're passionate about keeping our coastlines clean and plastic-free and strive to improve our ethical outlook by reducing our environmental impact through the choice of products and reduction of non-recyclable materials.
As a Catering Manager, my key aim is to provide our clients with healthy and nutritious food. Using eco-friendly products is a natural fit with this and our business ethos. We strive to minimise our plastic usage and using compostable products such as BioPak's, is a great way for us to achieve this.
Karen: Compostable packaging is certainly the way forward and it's great to see more and more catering outlets switching to plastic-free alternatives. Which of BioPak's products do you use?
Becky: We use quite a few of your products. Your compostable hot and cold cups, wooden stirrers, compostable cutlery, sugarcane plates, and paper chip trays for all of our take away meals. All plastic disposables have been eliminated and we have switched to compostable alternatives.
Karen: That's great to hear and thank you for using our products. As BioPak's Marketing Manager, I'm always interested to fnd out how our customers heard about us and what attracted them to BioPak. I know it's been a few years now but can you remember when you first heard of BioPak?
Becky: We have been using BioPak for around 7 or 8 years now. We first found BioPak through an online search when we were researching sustainable packaging. This was important for Skern Lodge as we wanted to make changes to our packaging to help reduce our carbon footprint. We can buy directly from BioPak at an affordable price and the selection of products is fantastic.
Karen: I know switching to compostable packaging isn't the only change you've made as a business to support the environment. As this week's #EcoChampion, could you talk us through some of the other changes you've made across the site?
Becky: We have been doing a few things over the years to eliminate plastic and reduce food waste. Cold filtered water is now available all day for example, and our clients are encouraged to use refillable water bottles. We try to minimise food waste as much as possible. Around our site, we encourage recycling and have assigned bins for glass, plastic and paper products, which helps reduce our landfill use. Any containers we can re-use we use for storage. We have removed single-use plastic condiment sachets and replaced them with large dispensing pumps. We use eco-friendly cleaning products which minimise our water usage through microfibre cleaning equipment. And we are also working with local suppliers to minimise our packaging.
Karen: Thanks Becky, that gives us a great insight into the fantastic work you are doing at Skern Lodge to help clean up our coastlines. I'm sure it will also give our readers food for thought on changes they could be making in their business.
Finally, we asked Becky to provide a testimonial for BioPak:
"Tammy has been extremely helpful over the years in advising us on the appropriate products that suit our specific business needs. The service we receive from BioPak – prompt delivery, great products and excellent customer service – are some of the reasons we keep coming back!" Becky van der Zalm, Hotel Services & Catering Manager at Skern Lodge