Food is almost always the biggest attraction at any catered event, but what goes uneaten usually ends up in the landfill. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food is the single largest contributor to that trash system than any other municipal solid waste. Unfortunately, when food decomposes in landfills it creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
When throwing corporate catered events, there will inevitably be waste generated. It is our responsibility to ensure that we reduce our food waste as much as possible. Luckily our team at Rivers Edge Catering, Portland, Oregon’s favorite corporate catering company, has put together a few tips for minimizing and handling food waste at your next corporate catered event.
Make food waste reduction a priority and part of your planning from the beginning. When planning your event research organizations in your community that will pick up leftover food. Usually, the idea of donating food is an afterthought, and the food goes to waste. Plan ahead and make arrangements. Here are a few organization in the Portland, Oregon area where you can donate food.
Make sure you understand the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, a federal law that protects organizations and individuals from liability issues when donating food in good faith to nonprofit organizations.
Before your corporate event communicate with your attendees about food waste. Send out an email reminder before your event asking your attendees to please let you know if they cannot make it so that you can reduce the amount of food waste.
The average person eats about 1 pound of food per meal. Often times corporate caterers will set buffets to feed each person around 3 pounds of food. But at conferences and corporate events, people don’t want to be stuffed full.
Select corporate caterers, like Rivers Edge, and venues that support sustainability initiatives. We choose to use in-season food produced by local vendors in order to minimize our carbon footprint.
Forget the paper plates and plastic cutlery. Choose washable and reusable crockery and cutlery over single-use disposables.
Set up a hydration station or offer pitchers of tap water instead of plastic bottles.
Place recycling and composting receptacles next to trash cans.
Event planners, venues, and corporate caterers should be active in the contract discussion about food quality and resources available to the client. Together we can care for our environment and raise awareness.
Communicating with your caterer and with your guests can drastically decrease food waste. Make sure to communicate honestly with your corporate caterer about event attendance to ensure that the perfect amount of food is served. Communicate with your attendees about your food waste efforts. In addition to sending your email reminder, make sure that your recycling and compost receptacles are clearly labeled and in plain sight. Use signage throughout the event to clearly educate attendees of your sustainability efforts.
After the event, update your attendees on how successful the event was in reducing waste. Use apps such as the Whole Earth Calculator to generate the number of meals you were able to supply and the amount of carbon dioxide and methane that would have been released into the atmosphere if that food had gone to waste. The app can even generate a tweet that includes the calculations and a thank-you to everyone involved.
Preventing food waste can seem like a daunting undertaking, but even a beginner can start a conversation with corporate caterers to understand how to effectively lower and measure food waste. Give us a call at Rivers Edge Catering to get started in planning your next event.