Zero Waste Bistro in New York, made with recycled Tetra Pak

by | 21 June 2018 | architecture, events

Commissioned by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, Zero Waste Bistro opened during the NYCxDesign festival. This small bistro became a pop-up restaurant built from recycled food packaging, and composted all their leftovers.


The installation where they are serving these meals was co-curated by Finnish designers Harri Koskinen and Linda Bergroth.

Bergroth was also responsible for the design of the space, for which she looked to her country’s design heritage and its current innovations.




To build the restaurant, she chose panels made from recycled Tetra Pak – a packaging material commonly used for milk cartons.

The panels were fabricated in batches by ReWall in Iowa, and took their colour from whichever products were processed at the time.

In this case, the surfaces had a mottled silver-blue tone from afar, while the text and barcodes from the packaging were visible when looked at up close.


“Because it’s a four-day event, I wanted to do something that’s visual, fun,” said Bergroth. “This tunnel space creates a nice intimate dining experience, and nice acoustics.”



The structure was a narrow space, with arches over a long central table.

She also created a set of speckled trays using Durat – a solid-surface material from a Finnish company of the same name, which is made from recycled plastics and is itself fully recyclable.


The concept as a whole provides an example of a circular economy, in which resources are kept and reused for as long as possible.



The temporary restaurant was based on Restaurant Nolla’s concept, billed as the “first zero-waste restaurant in the Nordic region”.

Among its aims are to use foods that would typically be discarded, and to reject packaging from supplier, while working closely with designers, engineers and architects to rethink waste management and water efficiency.




“Our dishes at Zero Waste Bistro in New York will be comprised of local and organic ingredients as well as commonly overlooked by products of our food system,” chef Luka Balac mentioned in a statement.

“With a strong focus on sustainability, our menu has emerged from creative thinking and the desire to produce something delicious and authentic out of local ingredients that are often ignored.”






Photography is by Nicholas Calcott.

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