Zero-waste restaurant Silo crowdfunds for technology to recycle its own glass

Jane Ryan

06 May 2018

Some restaurants are famed for what’s in the kitchen, but Doug McMaster’s restaurant Silo in Brighton is famous for one thing it doesn’t have. A bin.

Instead of contributing to the huge amount of waste restaurants and bars pump out each year, the staff at sustainably-minded Silo put all their food waste into Bertha, a compost machine that can turn 60,000 tonnes of organic waste into compost in just 24 hours.

Having dealt away with plastic by ensuring none of the restaurant's produce comes in packaging, the only thing leaving Silo was glass, bound for recycling. But that’s all about to change as McMaster, who is also known for his collaboration with Ryan Chetiyawardana at Hoxton restaurant Cub, turns to Crowd2Fund for money to turn all of Silo’s glass waste into a fine glass porcelain – providing the restaurant with new plates and cups to use and sell.

‘[Approximately] 40% of all glass created is eventually bound for landfill,' said McMaster. 'Even recycling as a process has a phenomenal amount of waste, as does glass production.'

Hoping to raise £10,000, the funds will go towards a glass-bottle crusher, a jewellery polisher, product development and the purchase of barrels of wine. That last item is being brought in to further reduce Silo’s single glass use.

Brighton potter Mark Caivol will be the one working his magic to transform the glass into crockery. After crushing the glass back into a powder, Caivol will then turn it into a viscous paste – something he calls ‘glass water’ – which can then be caste at a very low temperature.

‘Recycling glass requires a temperature of 1700°C – what we’re doing is 600°C. It’s so much less energy,’ said McMaster.

This latest project isn’t just about saving energy and waste. What comes out the other end is something of great value. Silo’s crafted porcelain is being described as delicate, elegant and strong. McMaster is estimating it’ll take about a year to create enough plates, cups and vases for the entire restaurant. After that, they’ll start to sell them.

‘Silo is a tiny operation into terms of glass waste. We’ve got wines on tap and hopefully soon in barrels. There are much busier bars than Silo. Imagine how much some of London’s bars could create.’

So will they be opening up the process to other local businesses?  ‘They could take this equipment and use it somewhere like Dandelyan, and it could keep up with their volume,' said McMaster, 'but it would need a lot of man power – an experienced potter dedicating all their time. So yes we can open it up to other venues.

‘I want Silo to be the first to not recycle anything. Recycling should be a last resort – it’s not zero waste as recycling has waste,’ he says.

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