Birmingham Environmental Partnership Green Restaurant Awards

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This case study was developed as part of SWM’s support for the Birmingham Environmental Partnership.

Organisation

Birmingham Environmental Partnership

Summary

In 2010, the Birmingham Environmental Partnership reinforced its commitment to helping businesses reduce their impact on the environment, by setting up the Green Restaurant Awards.

These awards are given to the restaurants that demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and the environment.  Entrants are judged in the categories of waste management, energy reduction, purchasing, and staff and community with an overall winner receiving the Green Restaurant of the Year Award.

The awards ceremony is sponsored by Veolia Environmental Services and supported by Birmingham City Council.

The aims

The aim of this project is to help businesses reduce their impact on the environment whilst highlighting the work of those restaurants that follow best practices, thus providing a good role model for others wishing to follow.

The challenges

  • Preparing the application form: choosing the categories and scripting the text and examples; confirming permission to use the judge’s logos; liaising with the designer and agreeing the layout and artwork.
  • Setting up a judging panel of six people connected to the fields of restaurants and sustainability and getting them together to judge the entries.
  • Persuading restaurants to take part in the competition.  Those restaurants committed to the green agenda readily applied, but others said outright they were not interested in applying whilst some said they would think about it and get back to us – but many never did.
  • The Awards: sourcing plain (not varnished) wooden chopping boards that could be printed onto; sourcing the herbs incorporated into the design of the awards; informing the designer of the names of the winners so they could be printed onto the boards ready for the awards ceremony.
  • Setting up the launch events and persuading people to attend them.
  • Setting up the awards ceremonies and making sure these ran smoothly.

The solutions

  • Various drafts of the application form were drawn up and approved by a panel set up to co-ordinate the awards in the early stages.
  • Six judges agreed to take up the role and dates were found for them to all meet and decide on the winning restaurants.
  • Birmingham Environmental Partnership phoned restaurants or visited some of them in person to help them fill out application forms.
  • The designers, Zulu Creative, organised the preparation of the awards and sourced the bamboo chopping boards, the herbs and personally oversaw the printing process.  The awards and window stickers were supplied in time for the awards ceremony.
  • A large number of guests were invited so sufficient people would attend.
  • Birmingham Environmental Partnership ensured the room at the Council House was booked and the catering ordered; invited the Lord Mayor to present the awards; ensured a representative from the winning restaurants was present on the night to receive their award; prepared background information on the winners for the MC on the night and briefed the person handing out the awards, ensured the winners would be correctly captioned in the press photographs that were taken and saw that these were sent to Birmingham City Council Corporate Communications team who were preparing the press release.

The results

In 2010 the top prize of the Birmingham Green Restaurant of the Year was won by Moor Hall Hotel for their outstanding achievement across all categories.  In 2011 this was won by the Warehouse Café and in 2012 the ChangeKitchen CIC won the top award.

The winner of the Waste Management category in 2010 was The Warehouse Café who recycled all the waste they can and donate their waste vegetable oil to CSV (Community Service Volunteers) Environment who uses it as bio-fuel for their Run a Muck recycling project.  In 2011 the winner was Moor Hall Hotel who have been trialling a food composter that dries food into a powder which is turned into fuel pellets and in 2012 ChangeKitchen CIC won this for recycling as much waste as they can, ordering from local suppliers that use returnable containers and giving left over food to local homeless charity SIFA Fireside.

Moor Hall Hotel won the Energy Reduction category in 2010 for publishing energy targets and levels of achievement on staff notice boards and using sensor lights in store cupboards.  In 2011 Café Vite at the ICC, whose “Green Team” monitors the energy saving schemes they’re implementing and provides accurate data so staff and customers can see the savings, won the award and in 2012 Moor Hall Hotel won again for installing energy efficient kitchen equipment.

In 2010 the Kitchen Garden Café won the Staff and Community award as they offer work experience and employment to students and the long-term unemployed, as well as training and employment to people with learning difficulties working with local charities Rathbone and Mencap.  The winner of this category in 2011 was The Warehouse Cafe who organise fund raising events for local charities and support Birmingham Friends of the Earth.  In 2012 Michelin starred Purnell’s won for encouraging staff to enter an award organised by the Academy of Culinary Arts and for holding charity dinners and events for Cure Leukaemia.

The winners of the Purchasing award for their commitment to sourcing goods locally in 2010 was the Eastside Café.  The winner of this category in 2011 was Opus Restaurant who believes so passionately in buying what’s seasonal and market fresh that their menus are changed daily and in 2012 this was VMF (Villa Midlands Food) for locally sourcing 85% of the produce they use from the five counties surrounding Birmingham.

Learning points

The awards in 2012 were brought forward to coincide with Climate Week in March.  This meant there was very little time for applications to be completed.  Birmingham Environmental Partnership was working to a tight timeframe dictated by the date of the awards ceremony so there was not much time to prepare the application form; arrange a launch event; receive the applications; judge them and prepare for the awards ceremony.  In future, the organisation would make sure there is a more time to do all this.

After running the awards for 3 years, and attracting the same committed green restaurants, Birmingham Environmental Partnership are planning to open up the awards to attract applications from a broader base of food suppliers which could include fast food restaurants, snack bars and possibly school canteens.

They are also planning to change the layout and questions on the application to possibly include multi-choice questions and tick boxes.

They will be talking to partners in public health about collaborating with them and possibly combining with some awards they run.

SWM comment

It is encouraging to see such positive behaviour and this much-needed promotion will help other restaurants learn ways to become more environmentally and socially sustainable.

Contact for more information

For more information, visit the Birmingham Environmental Partnership website.