With sustainability and conservation becoming ever more important, a restaurant popped-up in New York last week to demonstrate how both are achievable in eateries. With everything built from recycled food packaging and meals serves up using predominantly ‘by-products’, Zero Waste Bistro could be the future.

Could the Zero Waste Bistro Be the Sustainable Restaurant of the Future?

Set up at the WantedDesign Manhattan fair, Zero Waste Bistro was commissioned by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York to coincide with the NYCxDesign festival. The temporary eatery built on the concept created by Helsinki’s Restaurant Nolla, dubbed the ‘first zero-waste restaurant in the Nordic region’.

Dishes at Zero Waste Bistro were comprised of local and organic ingredients, as well as commonly overlooked by-products of the food system. Packaging from suppliers was rejected too, while designers, engineers and architects working on the project were asked to rethink waste management and water efficiency.


The space was curated by Finnish designers Harri Koskinen and Linda Bergroth. To build the restaurant itself, panels made from recycled Tetra Pak – commonly used for milk cartons – were used. The material takes its colour from whichever products are recycled at the time, hence the mottled silver-blue tone. Even barcodes and text are both visible up close.


Plastic furniture at the restaurant was made from old toys, while trays were made from Finnish Durat, a material which is made from recycled plastics and is itself fully recyclable. Bergorth’s own kitchenware collection was used to serve the food and decorate the table for the four-day event too.

While the Zero Waste Bistro was purely a concept, it does undoubtedly provide an example of how a circular economy is possible without compromising on aesthetics. We think the design is contemporary, inviting and could be used as a blueprint for projects going forward. We just hope the food tasted as good as it looked!


With packaging one of the main areas of focus in the quest for sustainability, step forward the Ooho! – an edible water bottle which is on a mission to rid the planet of plastic water bottles!



Tickled your fancy?



Ouch! There was a server error.
Retry »

Sending message...

Latest Posts