According to the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO), there are more than 820 million hungry people in the world. The need to reduce food waste is not only critical to creating a Zero Hunger world but is also key to reaching the world’s Sustainable Development Goals. Alarmingly, it is also reported that one third of all food produced for human consumption across the globe is lost or wasted. This wasted food has taken huge amounts of fresh water, land and labour to produce and if it were a country, food waste would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world (Friends of the Earth).
Event professionals are familiar with the sight of buffet tables overflowing with food, or multiple empty seats at dinner tables, on both the delegate and crew side of the spectrum. These statistics make us stop and think, but also question how our events and our own personal decisions, could be fundamental to the elimination of the global food waste issue.
Research conducted by Lime Venue Portfolio has shown that the average event wastes between 15% and 20% of the food it produces. Interestingly, the survey also shows that of all in-person event feedback, food is the primary source of conversation, and roughly 20% of all food-based feedback is in relation to waste. It’s therefore fair to say that, just like event managers, participants are increasingly aware of the issue too.
TTA is committed to sustainability and is working closely with our friends at ISLA to support the acceleration of the event industry’s transition to a sustainable future.
We are also creating our ‘TTA Toolbox’ for battling the beast that is food waste to provide ideas for ways in which we can all support its reduction both at our events and in our homes. As the world begins to open up and in-person events are back on the agenda, some strategies to minimise food waste include:
As consumers at home there are also many ideas we can implement that will make a difference to how much food we waste. Here are some thoughts from the TTA team….
Partnering Charities to Reduce Waste
TTA has been supporting the reduction of food waste onsite at events for many years. In one pre COVID project, our global healthcare client shone a spotlight on reducing its environmental footprint by supporting efforts to reduce food waste from its meetings at a medical Congress in Barcelona. The meeting venue we partnered with our client was the Crowne Plaza Fira which is signed up to IHG Green Engage, an innovative sustainability project from the IHG group consisting of advanced tools for measuring daily online the environmental impact of participating hotels. Each day the Crowne Plaza Fira meticulously prepared and donated excess food from events, staff catering and deliveries to a local charity. TTA was invited to experience the special journey of the food from the hotel kitchen to the project recipients (local orphanages, homeless shelters, youth centres and rehabilitation centres) chosen by the charity. With so much food produced in the world going to waste, the significance of supporting projects that help local communities and also help to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions coming from the food system, cannot be underestimated.
The Role of Technology
Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has paved the way for a higher volume of sustainable meetings with the rise of virtual and hybrid events which will have an impact on food waste.
We have also witnessed a surge in technologies and apps which help us minimise food waste in a variety of ways. These include offering access to unsold food from restaurants for a discounted price (Karma); providing a platform for stores to sell their surplus produce at a reduced price (Too Good To Go – which is available in nine European countries); and perhaps the most well-known of these three examples, Olio, which helps to connect neighbours and local retailers so surplus food can be shared and not disposed of.
At TTA we are always up for a challenge, and the issue of food waste is one that we are tackling head on through our sustainability drive as the world begins to open again. Between us we can help change the way in which the event industry manages food waste and the expectations around the policies that require us to do so effectively. We can all make a difference to help Stop Food Waste.