As the European Parliament commits to ambitious targets for waste, Zoe Stennett-Cox believes that the UK has no choice but to step up
We have all seen the images - supermarkets emptying good food into skips and households transferring prepackaged food straight from the fridge to the bin - but we mustn't allow retail and household food waste to be the focus of attention. Foodservice operators have a vital role to play in achieving waste reduction targets and every company should adopt these concepts.
According to the United Nations, we waste approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food each year, which is around a third of all food produced for human consumption.
We all have a role to play to turn this around. Either we can continue as before or we can make a change today.
Nor can we see Brexit as offering an opt-out clause for the UK. The EU vote has determined its approach to a Circular Economy Package, a new legislative framework for resource efficiency due to be enforced later this year. But this is not just the will of EU autocrats. A huge movement of 48 organisations from across 16 countries, led by one called This Is Rubbish, is urging for even tougher actions and wants the 50% reduction of food waste target to be legally binding.
The campaign is backed by over 59,000 people who have signed a Change.org and Global Citizen petition to halve the EU's food waste. Forgive the pun, but this item is on the top table and it's staying there.
So what can we do? If it helps, here is our plan. Vacherin has publicly pledged to increase its existing successes in three areas.
Firstly, we are on target to convert an even greater quantity of coffee grounds and rapeseed oil to biofuel in 2016/17; secondly, we continue to serve increasing volumes of 'I'mPerfect' cosmetically rejected fruit and vegetables to diners; and lastly, we aim to retain our newly acquired status as a zero-to-landfill organisation. We will report fully on these forecast successes in our annual CSR report in April.
These initiatives suit our business but they might not suit yours. Finding the right approach involves highlighting the areas where you can have the biggest impact, setting ambitious targets and reporting on achievements. This can be a challenge, but we find our clients welcome our leadership and expertise in resource efficiency and waste management. It helps them reach their targets, builds the strength of our relationship with them, and shows how we can work in partnership towards regional, then national, and finally global, ambitions.
While the environmental and social arguments for the need to act are strong, the commercial case for doing so is equally compelling.
Vacherin has managed year-on-year turnover growth throughout its 14 years of operation, while continuously improving on a wide range of sustainability metrics. This motivates our staff, inspires our clients and is good for our business performance. Why would you choose not to do this?
We believe every caterer and foodservice business can make a contribution - however small - which when combined can make a significant collective impact. Get involved!
Zoe Stennett-Cox is Vacherin's lead on sustainability and corporate social responsibility