'It’s crazy that a third of event food is dumped in landfill'

Events sector must do more to mitigate the impact – both financial and environmental – on clients and delegates, says BCD M&E senior director.

The revelation that up to a third of food is wasted at events has been described as ‘crazy’ after a report showed that much of it is dumped in landfill.

The shocking statistic was uncovered in an industry report called 'Fear of Running Out'.

The report found that salad made up almost 40% of food waste, with bread accouting for 16%, dessert 13% and vegetable sides 11%.

And up to a third of all food for a meeting or event can end up going to into landfill, BCD Meetings & Events senior director John Kelly told C&IT in an update on the research.

“It was a real eye-opener for us all when we started looking beyond the surface, to the scope and depth of the issues that are out there," Kelly said.

“When you think of the cost of food production, not only in terms of the spend of it, but the cost of it - from how we get to the farm to the fork, throwing away a third of everything we produce - is just crazy.

“As an industry, I think we need to look at ways we can mitigate that. That could be in the production, but also what happens to that food once we start serving it to delegates."

And he believes the industry does have a responsibility to act.

“There’s a massive responsibility. I don’t think it is entirely ours - there will be other driving sources.

"Some of that is around the food production element of things, but I think as an industry we need to start grabbing hold of it and educating our clients, our delegates etc, as to what impact that food waste is having.

“That’s whether it’s through harmful emissions when it goes into the ground or the emission it causes during food production.

“So that [delegates] are not sitting there hoarding food. It’s an easy thing to do, to go to a buffet and think ‘ah this is great - I’m not going to eat until 6pm” and then up to a third is left on a plate."

The paper was put together by Lime Venue Portfolio, in partnership with BCD Meetings & Events, with data drawn from a survey of more than 60 event planners.

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