No Time to waste
Footprint's Early Adopters Round Table gets the ball rolling on WRAP's planned voluntary agreement to reduce packaging and food waste in foodservice.
14th June - Government Waste Review Published
14th June - WRAP unveils plans to save economy £2 billion
In the Governments recent Waste Review 2011, the intention was clear: to tackle the waste arising from the hospitality and foodservice sectors.
In the grocery retail sector WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) has overseen the prevention of 1.2m tonnes of food and packaging waste over the last five years through the success of the Courtauld Commitment a voluntary agreement between the major grocery retailers and food manufacturers. Now they are tasked by UK Governments with implementing a voluntary agreement in the foodservice sector this will affect us all.
That isnt going to be easy. The Government readily accepts that this is a large and complex sector ... The agreement will be with a wide range of businesses including contract caterers, hotels, pubs and restaurants.
Which is why we organised for a group of early adopters to attend the Footprint Round Table: an event designed for businesses from different parts of the supply chain to begin to identify the implications for a voluntary agreement in our sector.
The Round Table Agenda:
- Presentation by WRAP Developing a Voluntary Agreement
- Presentation by Responsible Hospitality Partnership Waste in Foodservice and Hospitality
- Workgroup 1 Mapping Waste across the supply chain
- Workgroup 2 Challenges and Barriers to Waste Reduction
- Presentation Best Practice: The Dairy Roadmap
- Q&A with LOCOG Learning from the Waste Strategy for the Olympic Games
- Discussion Collaboration and interventions required in Foodservice to achieve targets
WRAP has been tasked with developing the voluntary agreement and the presentation by Charlotte Henderson Programme Manager Hospitality & Food Service at WRAP covered how the process works. Simple, measurable, realistic targets will be the key to any agreement, she said, plus wide collaboration. However, there was acknowledgement at the Round Table that the Courtauld Commitment cant simply be copied for foodservice.
Rebecca Hawkins, Director at Responsible Hospitality Partnership, explained businesses needed to understand the true cost of waste: that is, the purchase, storage and preparation costs of wasted food, as well as the disposal costs.
Fergus McReynolds from Dairy UK spoke about the success of the voluntary agreement in the UK Dairy industry. Their experiences suggested that any such public agreement can open the sector up to criticisms, but its an ongoing project and considerable environmental and cost savings are already being experienced - putting the sector ahead of potential legislation.
The key to the Round Table was to get the industry working across the supply chain. The first workgroup asked the early adopters to identify where in the foodservice supply chain that waste arose and where it left. Workgroup 2 began to identify what barriers exist to reducing waste. The exercises suggested that implementing a voluntary agreement in place in this sector is a more complex task than the deal struck in the Grocery Retail sector and that collaboration across the sector is key.
Lack of knowledge. While everyone in the room understood that waste is a problem, there was confusion over everything from industry standards and supply chain responsibilities to biodegradability and where the responsibilities for waste lie.
Feedback: there is a reluctance to share secrets in this sector which could provide a barrier to sharing best practice.
Best practice indicators
There are examples of good practice in the sector, but no wider best practice guidelines and knowledge transfer.
Feedback: A series of simple, factsheets for the industry on waste could be a valuable tool in improving how the whole sector from large caterers to small businesses deals with waste.
Diversity of sector
A key barrier identified was access to collection services for smaller businesses. Food waste collections are improving and expanding, but those running anaerobic digestion plants, for instance, will target the large volumes of the big players first.
Feedback: There needs to be a forum through which foodservice can engage with a variety of groups from other industry bodies, NGOs and Government on issues around waste and sustainability.
Discussing the waste map seemed straightforward at first, the complexities were soon evident. For example, a can of cola: how do you define the boundaries of responsibility? And how far does the foodservice sectors responsibility stretch? The feeling was summed up by one comment: Its very difficult to identify where packaging comes from and whose responsibility it is to reduce it or recycle it.
Feedback: The boundaries of responsibility for the foodservice sector, in terms of waste reductions, needs to be clearly defined.
Foodservice was seen as a fairly mature market with customers demanding certain things and hospitality is about offering choice.
Feedback: Where is the balance between choice and reducing waste of unwanted perishable goods?
Reducing waste by not creating it.
Do purchasers understand waste and the issues. Legislation was also seen as a barrier here: We are chucking away huge amounts of perfectly good food because of health and safety legislation.
Feedback: Businesses need to understand the true cost of waste. In the case of food waste, for instance, this isnt the cost of sending it landfill or having it collected, this is the cost of buying it, storing it, cooking and then disposing of it.
Final Thoughts ...
This was a daunting task, but the day provided the perfect prelude to WRAPs journey towards creating a voluntary agreement in this sector. But our role doesnt end here. This early adopters group was the start of what we hope will be an ongoing waste watch for Foodservice Footprint; and this report, the first bones of a living document that we can create together. One thing shone through in this first meeting, and that was the lack of joined up thinking and sharing of best practice.
Those organisations represented as follows: Acquire Services, BaxterStorey, Best Western, Brakes Group, CH&Co, Compass Group, Creed Foodservice, Dairy UK, DEFRA, Domino's Pizza, Essential Cuisine, Food Packaging Association, Huhtamaki, ISS, LOCOG, Nestle Professional, NNFCC, Partners in Purchasing , Pret A Manger, Reynolds, RHP, Sodexo, Unilever Foodsolutions, WRAP ' Do you want to have your say in a future Footprint Round Table? Contact us