Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Green Spotlight On… Pizza Boli’s New Multifunctional SmartBox!

If you’ve ever spent time at college, or even crashed for a weekend in a friend’s dorm, you’ll know that students and pizza go hand in hand. Case in point, one resourceful student at the University of Maine, which has an annual enrollment of just 11,500 students, calculated that over 17,000 pizzas are delivered to Maine campus each month, equating to 25 tons of waste each academic year. Considering there are 2,680 colleges and universities in the US alone, the number of pizza boxes that end up on campuses each month becomes even more staggering.

Such a volume poses a significant challenge for campuses around the country. Regular pizza boxes don’t fit down in school recycling bins and trash chutes and routinely sit for days on end in the dorm rooms of students until they finally find the gumption to figure out a way to dispose of them.  In fact, according to a manager of one of University of Pennsylvania’s largest college houses, pizza boxes are the “single biggest attractant of pests,” as reported by the residence’s extermination service.

Such a predicament is one of the many reasons why Pizza Boli’s, a chain whose stores are situated on and near many a college campus, decided to provide an innovative solution.  Pizza Boli’s new SmartBox pizza box is perforated and scored, allowing for easy disposal into recycling, compost and trash bins (whichever disposal receptacle is required by the relevant municipalities).  What’s more, these perforations and scores allow the SmartBox to be broken down into plates and a storage container, thereby addressing age-old problems experienced by college students of (a) never having plates and (b) never being able to fit the pizza box with leftovers into a dorm room bar fridge.

With eye-catching new graphics, copy that touts the SmartBox as well as an entertaining new commercial, Pizza Boli’s is making sure that its green pizza box technology makes a huge splash with its customers.  With future green initiatives on the horizon, Pizza Boli’s even calls out a website page on its new box that will highlight its ongoing efforts on this front.

The message to pizza operators? Look for sustainable solutions that will have a direct positive impact on your community and don’t worry about starting small. Going green does not have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Every little bit helps when it comes to the environment and small changes by every pizzeria create a big impact overall.  Most importantly, don’t be shy when it comes to touting your efforts to go green. Being a ‘green leader’ in your community will pay off in spades in the long term via customer goodwill, loyalty and, ultimately, increased sales.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pizza Operators: Get Your Green Message Off and Running!

Chef Ed, Diego and Miguel of Pizza by Certe (L to R) and Jennifer of Ecovention
In June this year, I received a fun, albeit slightly daunting, invitation from Edward Sylvia, owner of Pizza by Certe'.  Chef Ed, as he is affectionately known, challenged me to participate in a unique event called the NYC Pizza Run.

In its second year, the NYC Pizza Run takes place in the heart of NYC’s Alphabet City and is for a great cause (entry fees benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International based in New York).  Participants are required to run a 2.25 mile course that winds through and around Tompkins Square Park, stopping along the way to scarf down pizza at three separate checkpoints.

I like running. I do. I’m not one of those gazelle-like creatures that can spring swiftly and effortlessly, but I can plod with the best of them and 2.25 miles is well within my realm of capability.  And I like pizza… a lot actually.  I like doing something charitable every once in awhile too.  So when Chef Ed proposed this challenge, I jumped right on board. 

Now, I wouldn’t put "running and pizza" in the same category as "chocolate and peanut butter", but I will say this – it does make for great PR.  For green pizza operators, getting involved in unique events like the NYC Pizza Run is a great way to gain exposure and drive home their eco-friendly message.

For Pizza by Certe’ that message is to buy green and source locally and Chef Ed reinforced this at the NYC Pizza Run every chance he got.  He did so both subtly (by using and displaying the 100% recycled GreenBox pizza box) and directly (by highlighting the eco-friendly aspects of his parlor to the many TV and print journalists that were present).  He also managed to give prominence to the Pizza by Certe’ logo by displaying it on the backs of the official NYC Pizza Run T-Shirts that were handed out, and on the coupons and menus included with the official NYC Pizza Run swag.  The result of Chef Ed’s efforts?  A video on the NY Times site and mentions in the NY Times, the NY Daily News, USA Today, the Huffington Post and multiple other blogs.

The message to pizza operators:  Look for interesting events to get involved in to get your green message out there.  For the cost of a few pizzas and a bit of your time you’ll end up with some powerful publicity that matches the marketing power of a much larger chain that puts you on the map!

So how’d I do? Well, unfortunately on my third and final lap around the park, I somehow (perhaps intentionally, on some subconscious level) took a wrong turn, which ultimately landed me in the home stretch far quicker than I ever should have been.  Phew. There. I got that off my chest. A secret held by me and a cameraman who looked at me sideways as I raised my arms up in triumph at the finish line.  Ah well, I finished – somewhere in the middle of the pack - that’s all that matters. And it’s too late to take back my T-Shirt.