The UK’s first reusable lunchbox scheme to cut the use of thousands of takeaway cartons at markets, has been launched in Westminster.
The council set-up the trial scheme last month to help hot-food traders reduce their waste at Tachbrook Market, in Tachbrook Street, Victoria.
The Caulibox project carries the motto “takeaway without the throwaway”.
Within days of it going live, it was over-subscribed, with 180 people signing up and more than 50 registering their interest.
So far, an estimated 350 single-use boxes were saved within the first two weeks of the scheme operating.
Market chiefs hope that by the end of the three-month trial it will save as many as 4,000 boxes.
And they are already looking to expand the trial scheme before a major roll out to the city’s other markets in the autumn.
Councillor Timothy Barnes (pictured above), Westminster City council’s economic development and skills cabinet member, said this was just the start.
He said: “Each year, 10s of thousands of polystyrene and paper containers are being used by food traders.
“These are very difficult to recycle at the best of times, and even more so when they have food waste.
“Consequently, most go into the normal rubbish.
“There is a long way to go, but this is a vital first step towards making our markets more environmentally-friendly.”
The scheme works by users paying a £5 deposit.
“Once signed up, they are given a membership number, which is used to collect their lunch in a CauliBox at a participating food stall.
Once they have finished their food they can then drop the box off at a collection point for it to be professionally cleaned.
The boxes, which originate from China, can be used up to 500 times and are made from a mix of bamboo and recyclable polypropylene (a microplastic).
It is estimated that the carbon footprint breaks even at 120 uses, including manufacture and transportation.
Once a Caulibox has reached the end of its life, it can be recycled and the material used again to make products, such as flower pots.
Westminster City council started investigating alternatives to single use trays after market traders said they wanted to go greener but expressed concerns that bring your own container schemes were unhygienic.
And earlier this year, the local authority’s research showed eight out of 10 customers wanted to see more recycling, while nearly nine of 10 wanted to see reduced plastic and packaging.
To register your interest, go to: www.wearecauli.com/register