Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston is calling on more of the town’s restaurants and takeaways to follow the lead of an independent eatery that’s become a national frontrunner in eliminating plastic from its business.
The owners of Al Forno on Southfield Road are aiming to become 100% plastic-free within 12 months and are already most of the way there.
Their environmentally friendly journey began when a customer commented about the business using plastic straws.
Al Forno owners AJ Kuzgun and Liam Percy told Middlesbrough mayor Andy how they briefly stopped using straws altogether – until they realised some customers have conditions that means they need straws to be able to drink while many children prefer them.
As a result the restaurant’s suppliers, Laing’s Hygiene, were contacted about biodegradable straws which were quickly introduced.
Since then the company has caught the environmentally friendly bug and has replaced takeaway boxes, cleaning products, napkins, bags and much more behind the scenes with biodegradable or non-plastic products.
In fact they’ve pushed so hard on the green agenda that Craig Laing, Managing Director of Laing’s Hygiene, said Al Forno had done more than any business he has worked with in the entire country.
Mr Preston said: “I’m determined that Middlesbrough sets an example for the rest of the country and leads the way on environmental issues.
“It’s absolutely fantastic what Al Forno are doing at all their restaurants, not just in Middlesbrough.
“By eliminating non-recyclable products, they are blazing a trail – and I’m calling on more of our town’s restaurants and takeaways to follow their inspiring lead.
“Al Forno has always been one of my favourite restaurants but it’s gone up even further in my estimation now.
“Liam, AJ and the whole team are committed to making their business plastic-free – and showing how it can be done.
“If we can get more and more people following their example and start to put friendly pressure on others to follow suit then Middlesbrough can set an example for the entire country.”
Liam said: “People are more conscious of the environment and they are more conscious of what they eat – our menu is changing because people’s attitudes are changing. If you don’t give the customer what they want they will vote with their feet.”
AJ added: “The result I would like to see eventually is that all businesses stop using plastic products.
“We are doing the right things – we are not 100% there but I think in a year’s time we could be 100% plastic-free. We have to keep going, the key is educating people.”