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A West Yorkshire restaurant owner is heading up a crusade against plastic waste, replacing 20,000 containers and 4,000 plastic bags a year with stainless steel takeaway tiffins.
Harry Khinda, who runs The Crafty Indian street food and craft beer venue in Bradford Road, Shipley, has now prevented around 50,000 single-use plastic items from blighting the environment since he introduced the scheme just over two years ago.
Harry told Rob Cooper, “We get them shipped in from India via an agent who sources them from various manufacturers. We have been using them for over 2 years and have sold hundreds. Our customers love them and they are doing so much good to the planet compared to plastic. My Dad came to the UK from India in the mid 60’s. He worked in foundries and factories of Northern England. As all immigrants do he originally stuck to the food he knew, Indian and he would take his tiffin to work every day filled with curries, rice etc. At the time the advantage of the tiffin was all the food was in one box with a handle. The other advantage was that he would place the tiffin on a kiln in the foundry and hour before eating. The kiln would gradually heat the food up ready for him to eat it. Personally I love this story and who knew in the 60’s that such a simple product could help reduce the consumption of plastic. India has always been big on recycling, not always to help the planet but mainly for economic reasons. Millions of Indians even today eat their lunch from these tiffins.”
One of the first restaurateurs in the country to launch a plastic-free drive, he’s now on a mission to increase the impact by urging other restaurant and takeaway owners to get involved.
Harry, whose family comes from Punjab, got the inspiration for the scheme from his father’s decades-old tiffin, which he brought over with him when the family settled in the UK during the 1960s.
Harry said: “At The Crafty Indian we’re known for doing things differently and we decided we didn’t want to continue polluting the planet with plastic by using takeaway containers and bags.
“We had a good old think as to how we could reduce our use of plastic and this led us on a journey back in history to the place where our parents came from – and we realised that the answer was staring us in the face. Indians have been using steel tiffins to carry their food around with them at work in the mills, farms, factories and offices for generations.
Customers initially buy their tiffin from the venue for £18 but then, each time someone uses it to collect a takeaway, they get 10 per cent discount on their meal, so it very soon pays for itself and, eventually, they will find themselves in credit.
Harry added: “So far we’ve sold around 550 tiffins and this number increases by around three to four each week, which means our plastic use is reducing weekly at that rate. Even based on these early numbers, if you multiply it over ten years, just look how much less plastic will go into landfill from our venue alone.
“It obviously appeals enormously to our regulars, because they buy the tiffin but then get a discount off their meal each time they come in. About a quarter of our customers are now using tiffins, but this is still a journey we’re on. We’re making great progress and eventually we’d like all our takeaways to be served in this way so we can become fully sustainable.”