003: Freedom Pizza’s Founder & Chief Executive, Ian Ohan Leading The Way in the F&B Industry

In this episode, we talk to Ian Ohan. He is an entrepreneur, Founder & CEO at Freedom Pizza, a UAE based, natural carry out and delivery pizza chain. Freedom boasts with over 250 employees as well as an airline and VOX Cinema packaged product division. He is also an investor and operating partner for Wild Peeta and I thinGourmet Shawarma. 

 During this episode, we take a look at some ways that the hospitality industry can make a difference. We also discuss the impact that Freedom had by no longer offering free single-use plastic utensils and how Adrian Grenier inspired him to stop using single-use plastic straws.  

Episode Highlights

[02:20] I felt that there was the opportunity to still provide people with the convenience and the great taste that they were looking for but just to do it in a more thoughtful way.

[03:36] We predict at least about three months in advance what are requirements would be from the farm and it has worked out quite well.

[04:50] As a delivery business what we realized was that we were putting out a lot of plastic into the market and what we see to be As a delivery business what we realized was that we were putting out a lot of plastic into the market and what we see to be unnecessary. You know if you think about it most of our products are consumed at people’s homes where they have cutlery and straws.

[05:29] When I calculated that in 2017 we put out 500,000 straws and plastic cutlery packs. I would argue that 98% of those ended up in a landfill and probably were not necessarily, it made perfect sense for us to make a change.

[06:50] With cutlery packs what we did is we moved from plastic cutlery to bamboo recyclable forks and spoons and customers can purchase those for half a dirham online and they have to pay for it and it forces you to think about it, but it is available.

[08:50] Starbucks doing this is a big endorsement of the movement.

[09:25] To use almost exclusively use electric bicycles and electric vehicles for delivery.

[10:16] It is one thing to have it on a subsidised basis but if we are to make real change it has to make economically sense.

[12:04] I wanted to make sure that we were doing everything possible to ensure that our drivers were safe. We developed an entire safety training program.

[13:47] We wanted to develop a campaign that made the general public more aware of the activity and that they need to give our drivers space and be conscious of them on the road because they have people that depend on them at home for what they do.

[15:57] I think the one that marks our environmental journey is the dont suck campaign.

Final Five

1.What is one social media platform that you follow?

Lonely Whale

2.What is your hope for mama earth going forward?

I think that everyone becomes a little more thoughtful and makes the little change in their lives that selectively makes a big change.

3.What advise can you give our crazy birds this week to help out mama earth?

Be more thoughtful and to challenge the things that you do and the way that you do it and when you become aware of ways to make a change to insists that companies that you deal with making them aware of it so that they can make a change. 

4.What is one sustainability fact that you like to use in a room with people not yet on a sustainability journey?

We put out 500,000 cutlery packs and straws in 2017 and we are a small company. 

5.Where can people find you?

  Instagram, Facebook, TwitterWebsite

Key Take Away

“As a delivery business what we realized was that we were putting out a lot of plastic into the market and what we see to be unnecessary.”

This for me was a very important thing as there are so many other companies out there that put a lot of plastic in the market, just because they feel that that is what their clients want although it might be one of the first things that their clients throw in the bin.

About the author, Mariska

Hi and welcome! My name is Mariska. I am originally from South Africa, but now call the world my home. I am an artist, designer, environmentalist, podcast host and speaker.

I started the Mama Earth Talk podcast in 2018 to share some of the things that I learned about just how easy it can be to reduce your impact on the environment. This then quickly grew into a forum that showcases the amazing things that many people are doing to make the planet better, and further into a source of hope and inspiration for many. A few of the amazing guests include Zero Waste Queen, Bea Johnson, Claude Silver, Kathryn Kellogg and zero waste chef Max La Manna.

If you do not already I urge you to follow me and my journey on social media (@designbymariska), and to refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot your own waste using the handy tips I post!


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