What Does Sustainability Mean to us?

We make many choices each day, each of these will have an impact on our product, service, people, community and the environment. We believe that these choices matter and we commit to making the most sustainable choices in everything we do.

Slow Food Values

We have been members of the Slow Food Movement for over 20 years; prioritising good, clean, fair and healthy food which doesn’t harm the environment whilst also being fairly priced for the producers and the customers. Making choices that provide jobs where people live, particularly in rural communities is key and our understanding of biodiversity and valuing good farming practice as a farming family forms a large part of our menu choices. Heritage varieties (Ark of Taste) and supporting our bees, we have 3 hives with over 150,000 bees are vital parts of our Kitchen Garden and understanding nature.

UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Pledge

We have signed up for the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Pledge to re enforce our values. 

Sourcing and Procurement

Our family business prioritises sourcing local, seasonal, and where appropriate organic ingredients for generations.  Our relationship with local farmers, suppliers, and producers is key to helping us reduce food miles and promote responsible and best farming practices.  

  • Animal welfare is key to our procurement choices. 
  • We only buy Scottish fresh fish and shellfish landed in Scottish harbours, our pork and beef is free range and outdoor reared and our eggs are organic and come from Griegsons or Phantassie Farm.  
  • Our menus reflect the seasonal availability of these key protein ingredients.   
  • We buy seasonal Scottish vegetables from a variety of farms around the country.  
  • To celebrate our Italian heritage, buying key ingredients is key to delivering an authentic Italian experience at Contini George Street.  For almost 20 years we have been importing Italian vegetables, fruit, and heritage ingredients such as Parmigiano Reggiano and Mozzarella di Bufala direct from suppliers in Italy to reflect our commitment to provenance.  Seasonally is key - if any ingredient is available in Scotland we would always source locally first.  
  • The growing practices of the farms we buy our Italian lines from we believe offsets any food miles. Non industrial, small scale farms that are largely family owned and use limited to no chemicals.  Organic certification in Italy is expensive and isn’t valued at the same level as in the UK.  Much is organic but labelled as such. 
  • We have a one acre Kitchen Garden where we grow all year round.  Harvests take place daily and sometimes twice a day at the peak of the summer.  The garden does not use pesticides. We grow a huge variety of produce much of which we can not source from our usual suppliers.  Many of our varieties are heritage varieties such as our James Grieves or White Melrose Apples, Musselburgh leeks or Victoria rhubarb. Lovage, tangerine sage, horseradish leaf and root, broad bean flowers, shoots and leaves add three additional ingredients to the beans themselves. We also have four bee hives that help propagation and the honey adds a special sweetness to our menus, these are unique additions to our restaurant that helps us appreciate nature.
  • Our coffee is a 100% Arabica bean from the Terra Santa Plantation in Brazil. It’s a roast developed by Victor's father over 20 years ago. Our milk and unsalted butter and comes from Graham's the Family Dairy in Bridge of Allan. 
  • We support a variety of soft drink suppliers based in Scotland including Bon Accord and Summerhouse drinks. 
  • We choose premium spirits for our cocktails and our fresh juices are always freshly squeezed to order. 
  • Our wine list is carefully selected - using producers who share our values and use sustainable, organic and biodynamic methods. It is encouraging to see that this tends to correspond with an increase in the quality of the wine.

Waste Management

We comply with Edinburgh City Centre waste management regulations and strive to reduce our waste wherever possible.

  • We minimise single-use items, recycle food waste, glass, and paper.  
  • Our coffee grinds are used in our Kitchen Garden and waste cardboard is used for mulching over the winter months.  
  • We are committed to training our team on best practice through our online training platform and while team are on duty around best practice on the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling.  We carefully monitor portion control and food waste.  Only garnishes that are integral to a dish are used. 
  • We work with “Too Good To Go” social food sharing platform to reduce waste at the end of each shift at The Scottish Cafe.  
  • We were also the first restaurant to work with Zero Waste Scotland to support their “Good to Go” policy to encourage customers to take food home at the end of their meal, if they haven’t been able to eat everything.
  • All our takeaway packaging is fully compostable. 
  • We fill guests water glasses at the table and don’t leave jugs as this helps reduce waste water. 
  • If any guests wish to have their water bottled filled we are happy to offer this service.

Energy and Water Conservation

Energy and water are an important resource that monitor and manage in a way that minimises consumption.

  • We aim to reduce our energy with efficient appliances and LED lighting. 
  • We limit our water consumption through low-flow fixtures.
  • We record and monitor all our utility usage weekly. This has significantly helped reduce our usage.
  • We also encourage our staff and customers to conserve energy and water.
  • Management of fridges. Systems have been installed to ensure we minimise energy loss whilst the fridges are open.
  • We train our team to ensure all glass washers and dishwashers are only used when full.


As part of our daily operations, we monitor and manage our travel emissions to reduce them as much as possible.

  • We encourage our staff and customers to use sustainable modes of transportation, such as public transport, cycling, or walking. 
  • We are soon to provide a bike purchase grants for our team. 
  • We coordinate deliveries including our kitchen garden (where two of our directors live), wherever possible to minimise the journey time for our suppliers
  • Where possible we will buy in bulk and coordinate our orders across our three restaurants to help also aim to reduce waste, reduce transportation, and reduce packaging.
  • Our products from Italy are transported in bulk, weekly, by freight.   
  • We have one petrol car with a 100cc engine to support low emissions.

Social Responsibility

  • We engage with our community stakeholders by hosting events, charitable campaigns, and community outreach activities. 
  • We support local charities and nonprofits that align with our sustainability goals. 
  • All our team have access to an Employee Assistance Programme and a Mental Health FIrst Aider, we offer support for a variety of health, wellbeing and financial concerns and signpost the team to the wider community network for specified support when required. 
  • We promote Diversity and Inclusion within all our recruitment and selection processes and offer flexible working arrangements to suit personal circumstances
  • We pay National Living wage as a minimum (regardless of age) and frequently review salaries and hourly rates inline with cost of living increases 
  • We add an optional gratuity to the customers bill to help increase the team's remuneration, the tips are shared equally between the departments and are based on hours worked, not responsibility or role. This is paid via a tronc system which is HMRC approved. 
  • We prioritise safety and offer a contribution towards taxi travel for late night shifts worked
  • Our Contini Academy provides training and apprenticeship schemes for all team, we offer short courses that range in content, some are role specific where others are for personal development
  • We have contributed to the Fair Work Convention to support the best understanding of what fair means for our team and for business.
  • We work with Hospitality Rising, Hospitality Industry Trust and Hospitality Action.

By implementing these policies, we strive to ensure that our restaurant is a sustainable and responsible member of Edinburgh's community. We are committed to continually improving our practices and setting an example for others to follow.