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10 tips for reducing food waste at events


No one wants to run out of food at an event but there are ways to ensure you don’t over cater and boost the green credentials of your event at the same time.

  1. Accurately brief caterers and food stalls. Communicate honestly the likely event attendance to caterers and food vendors.
  2. Attendee appetite. Understand if attendees may bring their own food and adjust communications and logistics accordingly. Ensure an even spread of types of food options that are likely to appeal to your attendees, so that no individual food stallholders are less attended that others, leading to food waste.
  3. Pricing. Ensure pricing of food does not lead to lower sales volumes than anticipated.
  4. Communicate. Inform attendees what food will be available and at what price. Ask for dietary requirements in advance to reduce wastage and satisfy attendees.
  5. Food salvage planning. Have a food salvage/re-distribution program in place. Request caterers do not uncover/open/serve all food at once, so that if over supply has occurred, the perishable food has been handled correctly for donation to food salvage programmes.
  6. Reusable. Use washable and reusable crockery, cutlery and cleaning cloths rather than single-use disposables.
  7. Reduce packaging. If it must be served in disposables, go for less-waste options such as a serviette rather than paper plate for ‘finger foods’. Serve pizzas on trays not in pizza boxes, don’t put lids on cups and take-outs if they will be consumed immediately.
  8. Avoid disposable service ware. Use disposables that can be recycled or composted.
  9. Bulk it up. Use bulk dispensing for condiments, rather than single serve sachets or sauces poured into little containers. Encourage caterers and food vendors to purchase their ingredients in bulk. Using large 2 litre cans rather than lots of small cans for example.
  10. Take back the tap. Provide tap water not bottled water.

Source: Sustainable Event Management: A Practical Guide.

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