Did you know that a single conference attendee can produce up to 5.23 pounds of total waste per day? Now multiply that number by the average attendance at your event and by the number of days of the event, and you can begin to see why the events industry is widely known to be one of the heavyweights in waste production. Although the largest amount of waste is from plastics and paper, the most pressing concern has to be food and catering. With a mix of societal and natural problems continuing to cause hunger on a global scale, the least we can do is focus efforts to minimize and possibly remove, wastage of food from events.
Sustainability practices are a powerful tool that can provide money savings and return-on-investment, on top of other big benefits such as better social stature, positive company image and environmental improvement. The biggest benefit is the general feel-good from knowing you have done the right thing!
How to Reduce Food Waste at the Event
Even if you want to create an atmosphere of abundance, or simply find it difficult to calculate the precise quantity of catering your event requires, there are still options available to cut waste.
Doggy bags – it’s that simple. You can offer a reusable or recyclable container to attendees for their leftovers. Maybe not everyone will be ok to carry their leftover food for the remainder of the event, however, be sure that some will do. That way not all of the food will be going straight to the dumpsters.
Look for national or local food salvage programmes and initiatives, food banks, food pantries, homeless shelters or non-profits in the field. In the US, the Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996 protects persons donating food in goodwill from civil or criminal liability.
Composting – leftovers can be used as organic compost for plants, and, well, farming and food production. You can create compost from vegetable and fruit leftovers, coffee grinds, egg shells, but not cooked foods, dairy and meats. If you don’t compost yourself, you can contact local organic farmers or get in touch with the local government.
You can inquire with your catering company to see if they offer a service for leftover food, or you can partner with someone who does offer a similar service. Rescuing Leftover Cuisine for example “Hold Harmless and Indemnity Agreements that protect, indemnify, defend and hold harmless our partners and their respective employees and volunteers against all claims or damages.”
I’m a wiseacre Millennial, but you’ll find my articles are the result of meticulous research and careful observation.