In general, with only a few exceptions, restaurants are typically getting greener, doing the work to become more ecologically focused or getting themselves in a position to make serious adjustments.

There are varying degrees of commitment to this, from restaurants that are primarily known for meat dishes including more vegetarian options, restaurants that focus on sourcing more produce locally and restaurants that ensure that not only their food but also uniforms and decor are ethically sourced.

On the furthest tip of the axis is the closed-loop restaurant, which is a restaurant in which every single element works towards a goal of producing zero waste whatsoever.

This can be achieved in a variety of ways, from locally sourcing ingredients without packaging, producing everything in the restaurant with recycled materials, composting all waste, creating and sourcing as much as possible through the restaurant and dispensing with disposables such as paper towels.

A good example of a restaurant that managed this and became a recipient of Michelin’s Green Star in the process is Silo in London.

Marketed as a restaurant designed backwards, its approach to producing a closed-loop restaurant is refreshingly simple. 

The menu is designed with ingredients that do not generate waste in and of themselves, opting for seasonal foods, meat and seafood that do not produce much waste such as mussels and wild rabbit, cooked from nose to tail to maximise the food and nutrition it provides.

As well as this, the fixtures and fittings are reused, upcycled or made from materials such as mycelium.

All food and other products are provided in reusable crates, urns and other containers, reducing the reliance on plastic wrapping and the non-recyclable waste that typically ensues.

Finally, they have a highly powered composter, which allows any waste remaining and leftover food to be converted into nutritious compost that can be used to grow more food and thus close the loop.

A closed-loop restaurant therefore is a ground-up approach to sustainability; rather than adopting existing practices to find places to reduce waste, it asks if the whole establishment can be designed with zero-waste as a starting point.

September 18, 2023 — Jake Blakey