Panellists at the latest monthly EventHuddle at 1 Wimpole Street, London, called for event industry food waste to be made more visible and for everyone to be accountable for the waste they produce.
The March panel, chaired by ISES UK’s Robert Dunsmore, consisted of Samantha Wilson, director of EcoEvents; Ian Ballantyne, food director at Cult Events; Mark Dodds, marketing manager at Roythornes, and Jordon Lazell, research assistant at the Centre for Business in Society.
Wilson claimed that, in the UK, waste costs approximately £2,200 per tonne, yet nobody seems to understand how to deal with it. “Everyone should be accountable for their own waste, she argued. “Whether a caterer, venue or agency, what are you doing to identify the waste you generate and to eliminate that waste stream from the get go?”
Wilson also pointed out that a lot of the event industry’s waste was hidden. “Once you make it visible and obvious, people tend to want to do something about it,” she said.
Lazell suggested the whole question should be reframed from: ‘How do we reduce food waste’, to ‘how do we prevent food waste’.
A tip from Dodds was to cater for half the number of attendees signing up for an event. He claimed the strategy had yet to see him run out of food.
Ballantyne backed this up by urging agencies and caterers to advise clients on industry dropout rates and cautioned against the tendency towards the ‘upsell’ which, he said, tended to produce more waste.
One question from the audience suggested that having CSR and sustainability policies was one thing, but ensuring that corporates filter these down to their event teams was quite another.
Wilson recommended a report by GreeNudge that claimed to show smaller plates could cut food waste by up to a fifth.
The panel wasted no time agreeing, in conclusion, that in order to prevent food waste, there must be communication, collaborative planning and the setting of objectives and deliverables between event planners, venues, and clients.
The full discussion will be available to watch at www.eventhuddle.co.uk and organisers say April’s event will be entitled ‘How to save ourselves from the next recession? Have we learnt the lessons of 2008?’