Where else can you enjoy a coffee and cake while gazing up at an incredible spacecraft? This is business as usual for the eco-friendly National Space Centre Cafe. The Café is in the heart of a science and discovery centre where you can handle a meteorite or spot Tim Peake’s spacesuit. “Just don’t push the launch button!” says Christy Hill, Assistant Coffee Shop Manager.
Christy helps with the day-to-day running of this highly customer-focused café, working with the in-house catering team to develop and serve a range of locally sourced, homemade meals, snacks and drinks at great value.
We caught up with Christy to find out more about how Planglow’s compostable packaging fits into their brand identity and adds perceived value to their delicious products.
Exploring the planets, protecting our planet
With an impressive 800 customers on average per day visiting the Centre, Christy was excited to start this “out of this world” role:
“It’s a full-time customer service role, and I get to work at the National Space Centre! I was really excited to work with a team that has a say in what we serve and how what we do affects our planet… this is the National Space Centre after all.”
The National Space Centre is fully committed to reducing the environmental impact of its operation down here on Earth. They comply with statutory environmental protection requirements as standard but also endeavour to go beyond this to reduce any harmful impact on the general and local environment.
Christy told us:
“Sustainability is important to the Centre as we look to play our part in both acting as a role model and also inspiring visitors to become more environmentally friendly. We all need to play our part in combating the climate crisis.
“We are always looking at ways we can become more environmentally friendly. We have introduced recyclable paper straws in the café while the Centre has installed over 700 solar panels on the main roof. We also work with a local recycling company to manage our waste, with 97% removed from landfill. Our building management system has been upgraded to move naturally produced heat from our Rocket Tower to areas of the building that require heating. Consequently, this reduces our drain on the local power grid.”
How does eco food packaging fit in?
The National Space Centre’s chef first found out about Planglow via a third party website and further researched products that would fulfil their sustainability needs. Planglow’s compostable packaging and eco offering accentuate their inter-stellar efforts to mitigate any negative effects on the planet.s part of a science and discovery centre, they have a mission to not only educate but also to think about their impact on the environment.
For Christy, it is imperative that their food packaging is sustainable, but also meets the needs of the cafe:
“At the Café, we explain face-to-face with our customers that we use Planglow products. We have signage above our bins explaining that we recycle and we also use social media to promote how we are working to become more environmentally friendly.”
The team use different branded finishes of Planglow packaging - our award-winning Gastro range, street food collection and clear Blanco bags. This packaging has been selected to meet the needs of the Café which sells a wide range of items, including jacket potatoes, hot dogs, nachos, sandwiches. The variety enables the cafe to offer food and drink in the most appropriate packaging, reducing waste.
“Planglow’s eco products have helped to increase the perceived value of the offering” Christy told us, adding: “Customer service, delivery times, product quality and understanding of our business and customers are all excellent.”
So who is the typical customer?
“The Centre has a really diverse customer base. We not only offer school and family days out but also manage a very buoyant corporate business, as well as evening film clubs and events - with a science twist, of course.
"Our whole team also uses the café, so we must change the menu regularly to make sure they don’t rebel", Christy jokes.
“We always seek to produce our food fresh on-site at an affordable price. Food provenance is integral to the Café brand - both to support the businesses in the local area and also to reduce the carbon footprint. We like to have fun celebrating our local producers, especially as we live amid such an amazing food and drink scene. We loved developing the onion bhaji cob recently, a true Leicester fusion food.”
The Café is busier during school holidays and weekends. School children will purchase impulse products, especially real dairy milkshakes, while the weekend visitor will look to feed the whole family. People spend three to four hours on average in the Centre and so often visit for refreshments or lunch, but there is also the challenge that non-visitors are unable to visit the cafe.
What’s the next big food trend?
“We see vegan and healthier options as big food trends and have been really successful in developing new product lines that cater to a diverse range of dietary requirements. Our homemade soups are always really popular, especially during the colder months. Today the soup is Eastern Spiced Butternut Squash and Coconut. It is totally vegan and incredibly tasty!”
With soup that sounds as delicious as that, we can definitely get on board with that trend! Thanks to Christy and the National Space Centre for sharing how they are embedding sustainable practices into the organisation.
Find out more about booking your trip to the National Space Centre.
For more information on Planglow’s eco food and drink packaging, visit our shop.