Food & Water

Service & Packaging

Single-use packaging is a deal-breaker for positive environmental action. As far as possible, single-use packaging should be eliminated. 

Many of the single-use packaging materials we use in our event catering don’t neatly fit into our current waste infrastructures.

There are dozens of different types of plastic. While many of these plastics are recyclable our UK and global waste management infrastructure is not effectively set up to actually recycle the vast variety of materials that we consume on a daily basis.

Across the UK, waste management practices vary between providers, with some offering more material recovery solutions than others. But regardless of whether or not something can be recycled, if these are not effectively separated they just end up with general waste and head to landfill or incineration.

Very few materials marketed as ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ can do this in the natural environment. These materials must be specially collected and processed in order to biodegrade.

Put simply, if they become litter they’re virtually the same as regular plastic.

This can make our recycling efforts seem like a waste of time and money, but with better understanding of the realities of packaging waste and the available solutions, we can make decisions that take into account what’s best for people and the planet.

Get ideas for taking action below or benchmark your progress.

What we can do...

1. Take a moment...

Sit down meals or slow-food moments are opportunities for networking and creating meaningful connections.

It also means that we can use proper serveware that can be washed and reused again and again.

A win-win for enhancing the attendee experience and reducing waste.

2. Bring your own container

Ask attendees and non-attendees alike to bring their own reusable coffee cups and water bottles, and provide water refill areas.

BYO containers save money in catering overheads and waste charges, but also eliminates senseless SWAG – no more needless water bottles for the guest that already has five!

3. Choose fresh over packaged

Immediately eliminate packaging waste by producing freshly made snacks like biscuits, tray bakes, brownies and offer fresh fruit.

Batch-cooked goodies in large numbers can often be a cheaper solution than prepackaged – and they can taste better too!

4. Stop on-the-go packaging from becoming litter

Waste streams should be clearly labelled at eye-level and grouped together. Generally there should be colour coded bins for the below, but check with your waste contractor.

– Recycling
– Glass
– Food Waste
– Coffee cups
– General (includes biodegradable and compostable materials unless alternative management plan in place)

Where there is a one-bin waste system, it is generally true to assume that recycling is not happening.

Maintain these waste systems in both front and back of house.

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