Platinum ECOsmart venues share eight ways to help stop food waste in events

April 2022

Stop Food Waste Day reminds us that we have the power to act before food becomes waste, rather than simply focusing on what to do afterwards.

At 15Hatfields, we recognise that preventative strategies are necessary at all stages where food waste can occur - from food preparation and spoilage, to what is left on the plate.

Following our accreditation as the UK's first Platinum ECOsmart Venue, we were invited to join the Greengage Platinum Inner Circle, which is a group of representatives from the most sustainable events venues in the UK. The group, including 15Hatfields' Client Services Manager, Joe Harris, met recently to discuss some of the challenges encountered by hospitality venues when preventing food wastage and compiled the following eight best practice steps below.

1. Set targets

Setting an achievable target is a great way to get teams off the start line. By starting with realistic goals, venues can set more ambitious targets as they monitor progress.

2. Identify and measure

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) developed a waste data capture sheet in response to the £3.2 billion of food wasted each year by the hospitality and food sector. The sheet enables venues to prioritise areas for improvement by identifying where in the process chain most food is wasted.

3. Get staff on board

Encouraging a culture of participation and openness empowers staff to lead by example, ensuring strategies to reduce food waste are implemented at all stages, challenges are responded to thoughtfully, and solutions are shared as a team.

4. Order smarter

Placing new items at the back of storage facilities and regularly checking stock ensures that venues are only buying what is needed. Purchasing food locally, where possible, also reduces the chance of spoilage as produce has spent less time in storage and transit.

5. Create smarter menus

Assessing client needs is essential to producing a smaller, tailored menu rather than offering lots of variations. Zero-waste dishes that incorporate ingredients that are often wasted like stalks and stems can be introduced. Seasonal menus also make the most of ingredients while they are in abundance and can be locally sourced. We work with event catering specialists Eden Caterers to provide dishes that champion local and seasonal produce.

6. Reduce the number and size of portions

One of the main causes of food waste in the events industry is the phenomenon of over catering. Rather than serving everything at once, some food should be held in reserve for those that would like more, as unconsumed food that has already been served becomes harder to repurpose for food hygiene and safety reasons.

7. Engage customers

Clearly communicating the benefits of a waste reduction strategy is vital to ensuring clients and event delegates understand and support your choices on the day. At 15Hatfields, we aim to inspire our clients and include them in our mission to ensure a sustainable future for events.

8. Deal with leftover food

Food leftovers should be sent to a recycling plant rather than landfill, as decomposing food releases harmful greenhouse gases such as methane. To avoid carbon being released in transit, venues can purchase in-house food composters and compactors which convert leftover food into a liquid that can be used to create renewable energy. Explore the sustainable food and beverage options available at 15Hatfields, including Toast Ale which is produced from surplus bread.

15Hatfields is also the official sustainable venue of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), which as an organisation, campaigns to reduce food waste. Read an interview with CIEH trustee Sterling Crew on how UK household food waste has fallen but continues to feed climate change and a guest blog written by Eleanor Morris, Hospitality and Food Service Specialist, WRAP.

The best practice guide on food waste is the first in a series of how to make events more sustainable, and the Platinum group will meet again in May to develop opportunities to support other venues even further.