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What is the impact of hospitality and events on the environment?

Part III: Waste at Events

In this article, we look in depth at the contribution of waste at events to the problem and our sustainable solutions.

This is a big question that requires a suitably complex answer. We cannot help but witness in both fixed location and temporary hospitality venues the large amount of consumption and resulting waste, see picture above if you are struggling to remember what the end of an event can look like. There have been valiant attempts to calculate this waste, for example a study in California in 2006 found that 2.5 pounds (1.25kg) of waste is created by a single person at an event. These interconnected industries, with a combined contribution to the UK economy of £115.3 Billion in 2016/17, are economically significant as well as socially and culturally necessary so we must work hard to reduce this impact.

What about waste at events?

This overlaps with the two areas we have already explored, but it deserves individual attention because effectively managing waste at events is a very quick and relatively easy fix for reducing demand for new products. According to the UN Environment Programme in the UK 6.7 million tonnes of food every year is wasted, around one-third of the 21.7 million tonnes purchased, equating 32 per cent of all food. More recently, the sustainability charity WRAP estimated that in 2018 this has grown to around 9.5 million tonnes , which had a value of over £19 billion a year, and would be associated with more than 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Through more efficient stock ordering/ management, effective recycling and ownership we can reduce this waste and consequently the carbon footprint. As an industry we have already made good inroads with getting rid of single use plastic, this should now be extended to food waste and even to the signage we use at events, the sky's the limit on this one.

Our Solution:

  1. Closed Loop Systems: Our Closed loop system for food and drink recycles this waste via our herb garden into newly grown ingredients for our cocktails. We do this by being mindful at events where our food and drink waste is going then taking it back to our Natural HQ and feeding it to worms, yes that is right, who live in the wormeries we built for them using leftover wood from the production of an event. The worms then make it into worm casting which is perfect for our herb garden, where we grow herbs to put in our cocktails. This completes the loop, what would have gone in the bin has helped to create what we next serve to our customers, pretty neat!

  2. We take ownership of all recycling: As standard we only use consumable items we can compost, recycle or wash. We take ownership of all recycling from our bars at events and choose the most sustainable way to recycle, sometimes this is at the venue otherwise we coordinate with local services or recycle it ourselves back at our Natural Quarters. For food waste we use our close loop system, check out our instagram @thenaturalbarcompany to see the it working IRL (In Real Life). We even offer to take waste from other suppliers at the event, meaning we can have an even bigger impact.

  3. Upcycled bars: All of our bars and production uses upcycled wood from our sister company, Elf Events, as well as anything we find left behind that is destined for landfill after events. For more information check out our Joey’s blog detailing his journey and practises here

By Dominic John

Continue reading part 3....

Dominic is the Sustainable Business Director at The Natural Bar Company. He has worked in hospitality and events for the past fifteen years and in sustainable businesses for the past three years, his passion is creating closed loop systems and proving that sustainability in the long run can save rather than cost money to a business .