Tourism Vancouver's Susan Graham, Convention Services Manager, Canada and International recently watched a webinar about conference food waste and wanted to provide her key takeaways. Thank you to, Events Industry Council and Koncept Events for this valuable information.

Meeting planners and event organizers are constantly looking for ways, both big and small, that their conferences and meetings can become more environmentally sustainable and leave a lesser impact on the host city.

While many will focus on “greening” their meeting and reducing paper or plastic use there is another area that can be addressed with as much care and benefits to the host city communities as well. 

Reducing food waste is something that everyone involved with meetings can take part in. Not only could a meeting planner review how they currently manage their food and beverage, but attendees and delegates can shift their mind-set moving forward as well. Below are a few tips to get you started when planning your next event. 

  1. Provide smaller plates – when setting a buffet service, provide smaller plates. This one simple act can make a positive effect on the amount food waste. The delegate still enjoys the buffet options and the servers will be clearing away plates with less left-over or non-eaten food destined for the garbage.
  2. Pre-set 80% of tables – your conference is busy and has a quick turn over from the end of the meeting session into lunch. Instead of having the facility pre-set salads on the tables for all the delegates, pre-set for 80% of the tables and leave “reserved” signs on the other tables. This way as the room fills you can remove select reserved signs and arrange to have the servers bring in the salads on the spot to avoid unused seats and food.
  3. Review left-overs after service – take a few moments to review the left-over food after each service (breakfast, lunch or dinner and even breaks) to see what items have not been popular with your delegates. You can then us these notes and observations to adjust future orders.  For example, if there are many croissants left over from the breakfasts each day make note of this as a delegate preference shift and order less for future meetings. 

Food and beverage is a key component in our industry and becoming “waste aware” in this aspect of the meeting is as equally important as “going green”.

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