Good Trash was born from a desire to create actual and positive change within the food and beverage export and import industry, specifically focusing on foreign imports into China. Although still in its inception, the company is gaining major headway, in Jing’an specifically, with hopes to grow and involve all major F&B venues in Shanghai by the end of the year.
By focusing on waste reduction, rather than complete removal, Good Trash is helping restaurants, bars and F&B importers trial ways to reduce waste and improve corporate responsibility. We sat down with Aaron Marsich, one of the co-founders of Good Trash, to learn more about what they do and how to get involved.
What is Good Trash and why was it started?
Disgusted by the amount of excess packaging and wastage witnessed from our own experience of importing products to China, we really started to think about the environmental and social impact our work was having, and realized that, as a whole, our industry is a far way away from finding creative and sustainable ways to reduce or reuse wastage.
There are both geopolitical (better trading partners on the ground) and marketing (responsible content connects better with high-value consumers) applications all rolled into the same concept.
Who all is involved in Good Trash? What is your background and your partners’ background?
Aaron Marsich – New Zealand importer and F&B marketing.
Alyssa Cockrell – Hong Kong restaurateur and works with diversified food business in China.
Macia Monterde – Restaurateur from Spain and works with diversified food business in China.
Marco Chavez – Restaurateur from Mexico, chef and restaurant co-owner.
What purpose does Good Trash serve?
The majority of food waste and plastics end up in landfills, and although its complicated, the truth is a lot of it could be re-utilized, re-purposed and rescued. It’s just cheaper, faster, and – most the of time – easier for businesses to throw it away rather than to try and do things differently. It all comes down to a change in mindset and a rebalancing of priorities.
By partnering with key Shanghai chefs and venues who share our vision, we are able to create prototypes and models that can lead the way so that others will be able to follow in the future as the market for socially responsible foreign import packaging grows.
Corporate social responsibility is a thing most companies say they integrate into their operations. However, in our own experience, it’s something that we only ever discussed twice a year, with the resulting ‘socially responsible actions’ typically involving donating funds to a charity, and then posting something on our website to show that we were doing our part.
When we started looking deeper into the issues on our own doorstep, we realized there was a lot we could do better ourselves. We have reduced the packaging on our imported products significantly and implemented strategies to reduce packaging and wastage as much as possible.
Even with these, however, we know that anything sustainable can only come from involving stakeholders beyond our scope, and that is where Good Trash comes into play.
Good Trash aims to come up with innovative solutions that are also commercially attractive and viable for both consumers and suppliers to be willing to get involved. We understand that costs are a very sensitive thing, so whatever we create needs to, at the very least, not cost the businesses more to implement than it otherwise would to discard the waste product.
How is Good Trash improving the excess packaging waste situation in Shanghai?
We focus specifically on reduction rather than removal, since we understand that eliminating all packaging isn’t immediately realistic. We help reduce unnecessary packaging through creative design and working with repackaging goods for other purposes.
There are many chef’s and creative individuals within our reach that want to be active and contribute in ways that benefit the environment, but many lack the funding and means to do so. With Good Trash, we are trying to provide a channel by funding and working with key creatives to develop products that utilize current food or packaging waste.
We then look at how these products can potentially replace items traditionally used in their POSM (point of sales merchandise) or GWP (gift with purchase) that would otherwise be created from brand new materials, which only adds to the problem.
Currently we are already working with various Chef’s around the city including Blake Thornley from the OHA Group, Hardeep Somal from Klay, and Chef Marco from Bonica, and have some fun projects in the works. We are also testing with different designers to look at ways of making packaging that is more environmentally friendly or that utilizes already used materials.
What does the future look like for Good Trash?
Good Trash is still in its very infant days. However, we hope that by simply trying and raising awareness, that we can hopefully inspire other businesses to think outside the box in finding more sustainable and creative practices that help to reduce wastage in our industry.
How can others get involved with Good Trash and work towards eliminating excess packaging waste?
For basic information, staying connected and learning more about Good Trash, follow the Good Trash Official WeChat account by scanning the QR code below. This is also a great way for F&B brands and venues to get involved early and contribute to waste elimination.
Our blog will be coming soon, full of open source recipes, concepts and production methods. Anyone can join and be a part of the growing Good Trash concept.
We also will soon be launching Trash Talks – live online monthly workshops on the last Saturday of each month. Industry players and those interested in F&B and social responsibility can join in and become part of the conversation. Following each session, lunch will be served using sustainable food-focused recipes. And post-lunch will include recipe demos and suggestions on recipe innovation.
[All images courtesy of Good Trash]