5 TAKEAWAYS | Putting Food Sustainability in the Spotlight – Sponsored by BioPak

Jun 22, 2021

The impact of food waste in hospitality is significant - from environmental, to economical, to social - so what solutions can your business adopt to drive change?

Hear what was discussed and more in our Hospitality Unites 2021 panel discussion. If you missed the session or would like a recap, check out our 5 takeaways below!

1. Sustainability is not only good for the environment.

Being sustainable and reducing waste is not only good for the environment, but also helps you reduce costs. “It’s a simple equation”, says Tony Green from Australian Foodservice Advocacy Body (AFAB), “What is put into the bin from prep waste or plate waste has already been paid for, so if you can reduce that then it’s money back in your pockets.”

It’s not only food waste related costs that can be reduced but also labour costs that going into prepping food, as well as overhead costs.

 

2. No longer a nice to have

Being sustainable and transparent about your waste reduction story is no longer just a nice to have, no matter the scale of your business.

“It’s essential to bottom line and future proofing the business” says Natalie Sarau, Chief Waste Warrior, Forkful. From a consumer point of view, sustainability practices help hospitality businesses stand out. Natalie shared some research that Gen Z and Millennials are willing to spend more on sustainable brands, with the same findings from baby boomers.

Natalie has noticed that Australia is behind the idea of food waste compared to her time spent overseas. During the process of setting up Forkful, a platform created to connect consumers with food surplus from hospitality outlets, Natalie experienced dismissive comments and the unwillingness to admit to food waste. “It’s a concept we haven’t got our head around yet. Waste shouldn’t be in the shadow, we should put it on the table and talk about it.”

 

3. Consumers are driving this

The panel agreed that consumers and small businesses are the ones driving change, with government regulation only kicking in recently. Yoost Bakker, Creator, Futurefoodsystem says that “we need to stop trying to influence from the top down and start leading by example and live the change.”

Gary Smith, CEO, BioPak reinforced that “demand for change is coming from consumers and they are extremely powerful”. Gary points out that the hospitality industry is of cents, not dollars. Whilst opting sustainable options may appear to be a small cost from the outsider, but it is a costly exercise that adds up quickly particularly for smaller businesses. He suggests being transparent with your change, take small steps and bring your customers along the journey with you, as they might be more willing to absorb extra costs that you might think.

 

4. Get behind new initiatives

Our panellists are running new initiatives to help push this topic higher on the agenda and the best way is to get involved and to each play a small part.

Joost Bakker is currently conducting a ‘live experiment’ at Federation Square in Melbourne to prove that zero waste can be achieved in businesses and in individual households. Joost is living in zero waste environment where organic waste is harvested, placed into the bio digester that ferments onsite. This produces methane for lasts up to 4 hours, then turning into fertiliser. All produce is grown onsite to feed the residents.

BioPak have launched Compost Connect that is aimed divert organic waste from landfill. Any business can sign up for Compost Connect and have their food waste and compostable packaging collected and reduce methane gas.

 

5. Where to start?

Sustainability is being increasingly demanded by customers so it’s a no brainer that your business should take part. But with many small businesses still recovering and feeling the effects of the pandemic, it can easily take the back seat.

Gary says that “passion is key”, and for BioPak “it was something we felt we wanted to do.” Whilst the driver for the launch of Forkful is to not see food go to waste.

Over 40% of hospitality businesses’ food is wasted, 58% of all omissions is as a result of the food we eat, food waste equates to around 4 million tonnes each year in Australia, and at the best of times only 9% of plastics in Australia gets recycled. When you look at these stats, it’s hard not to get passionate and involved.

Just remember that with the backing of consumers who are looking for sustainable businesses, the long-term positive impact for not only the environment, your margins but also your businesses’ positioning, any small step towards sustainability and reducing waste is the right way to go. The panellists acknowledge that the industry is becoming a lot more responsive and prepared particularly after several snap lockdowns in various states. It’s about taking these responses to the next level and making them longer term measures.

 

Panellists

  • Facilitator Wendy Hargreaves, Founder, Bread + Butter Media
  • Gary Smith, CEO, BioPak
  • Joost Bakker, Creator, Futurefoodsystem
  • Natalie Sarau, Chief waste Warrior, Forkful
  • Tony Green, CEO, Australian Foodservice Advocacy Body (AFAB)

A big thank you to our speakers for being a part of the inaugural HU event. If you would like to hear more insights, you can view the recorded sessions OnDemand now – find more info here.

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