Metamorphosis - innovations on the go: Sustainable Packaging Episode

Metamorfosi - innovazioni on the go: Episodio Packaging sostenibili
Welcome to the penultimate episode of Metamorphosis - innovations on the go. In this episode, always accompanied by our Francesca from A Milano You, we will tackle the much debated theme of packaging.

Especially in the latter period, activities such as food delivery, home shopping and online purchases have highlighted a serious critical issue on packaging. We are talking about packages, containers and packaging, often made of plastic or even worse mixed materials that are difficult to recycle. How will this market evolve? We talked about it with Vanni, founder of That’s Vapore. He told us a little about the evolution that his restaurant format has undergone from this point of view and explained his concept of active and passive sustainability.

Hi Vanni! One of the first things we noticed upon entering your venue is that you have rebranded. What are the reasons that prompted you to change, and what does the logo you have chosen represent?

It had been an activity in the pipeline for more than a year and for various reasons the construction took place during this period. It's just a coincidence!
The rebranding stems from the need to find a visible and concrete way to tell the promise of our brand: come to us, get in touch with our world and two things will happen to you. The first is to do yourself good, to take care of yourself. This happens thanks to the type of power we propose for example. We do not sell food but life, in the sense that eating well means living healthy, living well, living long. The second is that together we can take care of the world around us. We may not realize that the world is burning and needs our help to be protected. Each of us must do our part to achieve the goal and leave a better planet for future generations. 

You were pioneers in steaming, which as many nutritionists claim is the best way to preserve the nutritional properties of food.

Steaming is great from this point of view, but it is often difficult to sell. It is a method that must also be explained to the consumer, because for some foods such as fish it is able to preserve the freshness and flavors of the sea. In addition to this, the choice of raw materials and the combinations you make between the products is important.

One of my favorite proposals was the salmon basket with orange. And speaking of baskets, we remind you that you were among the first to pay attention to the issue of packaging sustainability.

From this point of view we are constantly evolving. In the past we have always had a mix of more sustainable materials, and some less sustainable. For example, our stores have always been powered by renewable energy. On the other hand, the take-away containers for hot foods were made of cardboard and partly plastic to prevent liquids from leaking out of the packaging.
Today everything has changed: our packaging is recyclable and biodegradable.

As a restaurateur I believe that the main variable that still pushes many in my sector not to be totally sustainable is the cost of these innovative packaging. It is a variable that has a certain weight and you cannot ignore it.
But even this obstacle, in my opinion, will be overcome; and the reasons are two. The first is the constant technological development that will reduce the costs of development and diffusion of these sustainable packaging. And the second reason is ethical: the time will come when it will be realized that producing healthy food and then shipping it in packaging that has a negative impact on the environment is not a valid equation. In a couple of years, everyone will have sustainable packaging like ours, which try not to damage the environment.
And this is part of what I call passive sustainability, which is to have the least possible negative impact on our environment. 
The next step, where we are a pro-active part of the action, is what I call active sustainability. Human beings come into the world not only to not destroy the surrounding environment, but also to create, therefore improve the planet by working together. 

 With the type of communication you make, you make your customer an ambassador for this message. And it's a beautiful thing.

I have defined the community of people who came into contact with us as "food lovers". I want them to love the brand, our values, to cheer us on. Indeed, they have to cheer us on because what we want to achieve is too good not to believe it.
The moment you believe in it and enter this world, you feel that you are doing good to yourself and those around you. In life there is nothing more beautiful than taking care of ourselves and others with our daily actions.
What we tell, even through social media, is something we believe in with all of ourselves and instinctively feel we are right.

Last question. In your opinion, what are the trends towards which Milan will meet from the point of view of the city, of catering, also in terms of sustainability?

We are in a critical situation, and we have been called to follow the rule of social distancing, and rightly so. But human beings are not meant to be distant, to communicate and operate only through the network. Yes to smart working, yes to delivery, but real sharing happens when you see each other physically. I hope for a more humanized society for Milan, compared to what happened before the lockdown. For me, the need to come together, stay together and share must be the cornerstones of a more evolved society.