We’ve all been there, the event is in full swing, the breakfast platters are being reeled away and there are way too many Danish pastries left.
It’s not surprising in an industry where food is a big deal and all planners want to please the masses. But reducing food waste matters, particularly at events, where leftovers are widespread. Not thought twice about it before? Well, it’s important for your event budget and your CSR goals.
Food waste not only uses a chunk of your event budget unnecessarily, but it also amounts to approximately 10 million tonnes of food waste in the UK each year and it’s expected to rise. On a global scale, a third of all food is lost or wasted even before it hits our plates and yet there are millions of people in the world going hungry. So, let’s make a difference.
We’ve been working with more and more customers on how then can drive sustainability at their events, and inevitably reducing food waste becomes a part of the plan.
There are a number of ways to help reduce an event’s food waste, before, during and after the event, here’s how:
Designing the menu: the venue’s chef is a great start. Some chefs will design the menu entirely around the event’s requirements too and this could include, for example, making sure the portion is right for say lunch or dinner, leaving out items such as salad garnish that tend to get leftover, as well as being able to advise on how much food wold be right for a particular group.
Pre-selection of meals: for one customer, utilising our delegate registration website, we gave each delegate a set list of lunch options (dishes that were designed to reduce food waste), and then served them a plated meal at the event. It takes a bit more time in the pre-planning phase, but the customer was very pleased with the results – happy delegates, empty plates and minimal food waste.
Ban the buffet: Buffets may be people pleasers, but it will always end in waste so if you want to hold a more sustainable event, ban the buffet!
Choose your suppliers wisely: There are suppliers that also wish to reduce food waste too so if, for example, you decided to have a juice station at your event, Rejuce’s juice is made from select wonky fruit & ugly veg from farms all over the UK. They use the stuff that is deemed by some to be too big or small, unsymmetrical or just plain ugly. The thing is, no one even sees it once it’s cold pressed so why not save the rejected fruit?
Compost your food waste: should there be any food left at an event and it can’t be distributed, provide a compost bin to reduce carbon footprint whilst ultimately contributing to the production of fresh, healthy compost that could help to grow more yummy food.
Food collection charities: There are food charities, such as FareShare, which will collect unused food and redistribute it to those who need it the most. One thing to note is that, the idea of redistributing the food will need to be considered at the point you design your menu choices and how the food will be served. For example, FareShare can’t accept buffet food or food that’s already be warmed, but they can accept the produce that was meant to have been used, but wasn’t, such as fruit and vegetables, or even bags of crisps and sealed drinks from break times.
There’s an app for that too: Olio is a food redistribution app, where you fill in a short form and Olio will do the rest – a volunteer will come and pick up food going to waste and redistribute it into the community. It’s quick, easy and hassle-free.
Marketing giveaways: To keep your delegate’s focus on reducing food waste, even post event, you could give spaghetti measures away at the end of the event, with some key messaging to remind them that food waste is important every time they open their cutlery draw at home!
Keep records: should your event take place annually, by keeping track of both attendance levels and food consumption, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions around food and beverage decisions to ensure there’s enough, but not too much.
As sustainability becomes more of a focus in events, minimising food waste is going to be key. Did you know if food waste were a country it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases (after China & the USA)? Is it time to join the “Stop Food Waste” revolution in events too?