10 top tips to Go Green with your catering

Published on by Livvy Drake.

Whether it’s for lunchtime meetings, team catch ups, or large corporate events, food is a universal mainstay of the business world. But before you grab the menu, it’s important take a step back and think – how could you reduce the waste footprint of your catering provision?

When you are looking at Sustainable Sourcing for your Go Green Action Plan, catering is an area where you can make easy wins, it could even fit in with your Happy and Healthy goals too- a well-fed satisfied workforce are usually happy!

We know that choosing a local supplier that works with seasonal food is important, and as Bristol is a foodie city there are lots of great catering companies to choose from, but how can you reduce the waste footprint of your catering?

It seemed the best organisation to ask this advice was the Surplus Supper Club, a socially, ethically and green catering company that transforms surplus food into buffets and dinners.

Surplus Supper Club Top 10 Tips For Lunchtime Meetings and Formal Dinners

  1. For a buffet, provide small plates

    So people don’t overfill their plate. They can always get seconds!

  2. Where possible, use reusable plates and cups rather than disposable.

    If you do need to use disposable choose uncoated paper plates and wooden cutlery and look at composting these. Polystyrene and plastic cutlery can’t be recycled or composted.

  3. Serve a finger buffet

    This will help minimise on cutlery and washing up.

  4. Ask the caterers to collect the serving dishes

    This is as opposed to providing disposable platters. Real plates look nicer than plastic, and are less wasteful!

  5.  Ask the caterer to provide less meat

    Meat has a higher environmental footprint than vegetables, so cutting down on it will reduce your environmental impact overall. You could also strategically locate meat at the end of the buffet table after the salads!

  6. Avoid single-serve sachets of tea, coffee and sugar

    These create a lot of plastic packaging and waste. And always make sure tea coffee and sugar is Fairtrade.

  7.  Ask if the caterers have composting facilities

    If so you can collect and separate the food waste from the general waste so it doesn’t end up in landfill.

  8. For corporate dinners avoid goodie bags of single-use items and flyers

    Instead ask sponsors to provide edible or desirable items that will go down a treat!

  9.  Choose an ethical catering company

    This could be one that uses the whole animal, doesn’t cut off crusts, sources locally or works with waste food. This simple choice can help you to educate your audience on the issues of waste and food waste

  10. Request containers for leftovers so people take food with them

    Everyone loves a freebie and a few sneaky canapes in a tupperware will make husbands, wives, partners or children very happy at the end of the day!

Sustainable Sourcing with the Surplus Supper Club

The Surplus Supper Club is the catering arm of the food distribution charity FareShare South West so sustainability is at the core of everything they do.

  1. People – They provide support and training for vulnerable adults and those returning to work.
  2. Planet – They believe good quality food should go to humans before composting, anaerobic digestion (AD) and the worst landfill. Particularly as food in landfill would create methane which as a greenhouse gas is considered 20 times more damaging than carbon.
  3. Profit – All the Surplus Supper Club profits go back into supporting the charity FareShare South West, so it can continue to:
  • redistribute food to over 130 organisations working with vulnerable people
  • support over 100 volunteers
  • work tirelessly in the community and with the food industry to stop good food being wasted.

So when you are planning the next lunchtime buffet, summer party or a dinner, don’t forget to refer to your Go Green Action Plan and Sustainable Sourcing pledges. Good luck!