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Sustainable catering for your next event

Over 9.5 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in the UK, and the events industry has a big part to play. According to the 2020 Beyond Food report, published in chapters by Lime Venue Portfolio in association with BCD Meetings & Events, a reported 15 to 20 percent of food at an event is wasted, which equates to a huge 1.3 billion tonnes annually.

These staggering statistics show the enormous impact that the event industry is having on our planet, but we can’t make change alone. We know that there are brilliant initiatives, big and small, happening up and down the country when it comes to tackling food waste and creating sustainable catering experiences, and we are constantly inspired by the creativity that we see to tackle environmental issues. If we all commit to making small, considered practices within our industry, maybe we can start to turn the tide when it comes to food waste.

So, how can you create high-impact events that don’t cost the earth?

1. Partner with sustainable caterers

Where possible we partner with sustainable caterers to help us to reduce the amount of food wasted through our events. Magic Hat Café in Newcastle offers bespoke, freshly prepared catering for events, all created from food and drink destined for landfill. The team at Magic Hat collects food from hospitality venues and shops across the region and uses these surplus ingredients to make delicious food. We love working with the team and our delegates are always impressed with the quality of the catering they deliver. By partnering with an organisation like Magic Hat, you’re directly impacting the amount of food being wasted in the UK with every mouthful.

Make sure you communicate your sustainability goals to venues and catering teams, so everyone is on the same page when it comes to combatting food waste. We love to learn from our partner venues and organisations, by having an open conversation and sharing ideas you can make real change, rather than trying to combat the issue in a silo.


2. Don’t over cater

Try to accurately estimate the amount of people you are expecting at an event and try not to over-order when it comes to food and drink. We’ve found that serving food through sharing platters or ‘family style’, rather than in individual portions, reduces the amount of food wasted and also limits the amount of packaging being used per event. This method allows delegates to serve themselves according to their preferences, or how hungry they are and avoids plates of wasted food at the end of a meal. Why not provide branded food boxes so guests can take home food to enjoy later if they can’t quite finish everything during the event?


3. How are you disposing of waste?

While limiting the amount of waste produced is the goal, there will inevitably be some food waste left over at the end of your event. For the Dynamites Awards 2023, we worked with a North East based anaerobic waste digestion plant to dispose of excess food, converting it into renewable energy, biofertiliser, and biomethane Gas. The biomethane produced is also injected into the local Gas Grid, helping to heat local homes and businesses as a renewable alternative to natural gas. How amazing is that?!

If it is safe to do so, leftover catering and ingredients could be donated to local charitable initiatives like The People’s Kitchen so people in need can get a taste of the event too, rather than it being destined for the bin.


4. Get delegates involved

Engaging attendees in your sustainability efforts will help people feel more invested and foster a sense of shared responsibility while allowing you to communicate your sustainability goals authentically. Why not try incorporating integrative elements into your event like a waste sorting station where guests can learn about your recycling practices and feel like they’re doing their part? Provide interesting educational materials on the impact of food waste and what you’re doing to combat it, and signpost to charities or organisations where people can visit to learn more about mindful consumption.


5. Track and evaluate your success

Make sure that at every event you have a robust way of tracking how much food was wasted, and where you have started to see positive change. This will help you to build on your success and adapt future events to have even more impact. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like a lot at first, by making small changes together we can help each other to turn the tables on how much food is wasted in our sector. Share your success with your team and delegates so everyone can celebrate the part they played in your achievements.

For more information on how to create a sustainable and impactful event contact or give us a call at +44 (0)191 691 3456