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Industry should be accountable for food waste, debate hears

Caterers, venues and agencies need to be accountable for their own waste, it was claimed at EventHuddle

Caterers, venues and agencies need to be accountable for their own waste, it was claimed at monthly topical debate EventHuddle.

The panel at the debate at 1 Wimpole Street in London highlighted that although everyone in the industry is aware of food waste, there is no consensus on how to deal with it.

Samantha Wilson, director of EcoEvents, said: “Everyone should be accountable for their own waste. Whether a caterer, venue or agency; what are you doing to identify the waste you generate, and further; to eliminate that waste stream from the get go? 

“A lot of the waste is hidden, but once you make it visible and obvious; people tend to want to do something about it.”

Jordon Lazell, research assistant at the Centre for Business in Society, suggested that the whole question should be reframed from ‘how do we reduce food waste?’ to ‘how do we prevent food waste?’ 

Mark Dodds, marketing manager at Roythornes LLP, said that for several of his events, he catered for half the amount of attendees and is yet to run out of food. 

He added: “When you allow your audience to know that ‘X’ is being done to combat ‘Y’, people tend to be understanding and accepting.” 

Ian Ballantyne, food director at Cult Events, said that agencies and caterers should advise clients on industry dropout rates and build relationships based on support and collaboration;  it isn’t always about the ‘upsell’, which can tend to produce more waste. 

An audience member suggested that corporates should be making sure their CSR and sustainability policies are filtered down to their event teams. 

Wilson replied that in her work with drp they research a company’s sustainability policies, allowing them to have a conversation about meeting the client’s sustainability objectives and helping with the reduction of any event food waste.

Wilson also added that there are free and creative ways to save food, as a report by GreeNudge revealed that smaller plates cut food waste by 19.5 per cent.

The whole panel agreed that in order to prevent food waste there must be communication, collaborative planning and the setting of objectives between event planners, venues and clients.

Next month’s event is titled “Can we save ourselves from the next recession? Have we learnt the lessons of 2008?” 

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