Exhibition News September 2018 - Page 26

FEATURE Waste not, want not While the problem of global food waste seems staggering, EN meets some innovators set on tackling it head-on W 26 e’ve all seen it. Tables laid with food for hundreds of visitors or delegates, left virtually untouched. Food waste in the events industry is at once epidemic and hard to avoid. Whether it’s food for employees or guests, it’s nigh-on impossible to accurately predict the amount that will be consumed. When you first hear about the issue of global food waste it’s the numbers that grab you. By some estimates there are 860 million undernourished people in the world, while simultaneously 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted every year. Every year. But, never let it be said that the events industry shirks from a challenge. As sustainability continues to hit the headlines the parallel issue of food waste at events is coming under increasing scrutiny. For this feature we’ve spoken to three professionals attempting to tackle food waste at different stages of the event chain: Olio is an app that connects caterers and venues with people happy to take their unserved food, Grub Stub is a service reducing waste in backstage catering for event crew and Dirk Elzinga is chairing an ICCA working group assigned to tackle the issue. “The initiative goes back to the ICCA Conference in Prague, and I must give credit where it is due to a lady called Silke Schlinnertz [head of operations and events at Euroheat & Power],” begins Elzinga, who served nine years as MD of Cape Town International Convention Centre before launching his own consultancy firm. “She approached ICCA to see if ICCA was interested in doing something about this food waste situation around the world and particularly in the event industry. “The initiative was embraced by the venue category and I was made an honorary member of ICCA at the conference and I thought I should do something back. So I volunteered to chair a working group to work on this project.” In the months since the conference, which took place in November 2017, September 2018 | exhibitionnews.co.uk the working group has set to work. “We have discussed how to approach the subject, with whom to work, where to start, where to finish,” says Elizinga. “We have a working group now with seven ICCA members from all continents of the world, all in the venue category. “We’ve decided the best thing we can do is first to find out what the situation is within the congress centres; is there a serious problem and a serious challenge? Is there experience with how convention centres around the world deal with the distribution of food leftovers?” This is just the tip of the iceberg; people will start thinking much more critically about the footprint of events” – Saasha Celestial-One “You can do all sorts of thing with food leftovers, but there are also legal challenges; in some parts of the the world you cannot do too much with it.” In the months leading up to an initial presentation of findings at IMEX Frankfurt, which took place in May 2018, the group carried out test interviews with some of ICCA’s venue members. “Certain issues were not an issue at all, some were more important and we came across some interesting examples of how certain colleagues are dealing with it,” continues Elzinga. “What we’