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Olympia London joins national campaign to tackle food waste

by Nicola Macdonald

This September, Olympia London will be joining forces with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to tackle food waste.

The venue is encouraging all staff and catering partners to monitor personal and corporate wastage with the goal to completely drop food waste from the menu.

WRAP works with businesses and communities to promote a healthy “circular economy by helping to reduce waste, develop sustainable products and use resources in an efficient way”. Taking part in national campaign ‘Guardians of Grub’, Olympia London joins the hospitality and food service industry’s awareness drive.

Food waste is currently one of the biggest sustainability problems challenging the planet. It takes an enormous amount of time, resources and energy to cultivate food and yet, figures reveal that one third of all produce is thrown away.

According to food sharing app OLIO: “In the UK alone, households are responsible for over half of the waste with the average family throwing away £700 worth of food each year, adding to a whopping £12.5bn going straight to landfill. Just to put it into perspective, for every time we fill a 10-litre bin with discarded food, it is costing us £10.

In the corporate environment, the Hospitality & Food service industry wastes 1 million tonnes each year. According to Guardians of Grub, 75 per cent of it is in fact edible and, if re-purposed, could reduce a current loss of £2.9bn.

Olympia London is promoting the message “your business is food; don’t throw it away” and signing its onsite catering partners up to WRAP’s new campaign. The venue is tracking waste by measuring deteriorated food, preparation waste, inedible waste and plate waste.

In addition to catering partners, the venue is inviting all staff to get involved and measure their own food waste during September; plus offering tips on portion control (reducing plate waste) and planning meals / shopping smarter to avoid food going out of date.

All participants are invited to record their own food waste and share experiences with colleagues, friends and social media by:

• Downloading a tracking form here.
• Recording daily food that is discarded (even inedible bits) during September
• Sharing tips for saving food with peers, family and friends
• Sharing experiences on social media using #GuardiansofGrub
• Using the instructions on the tracking form to calculate the total waste for the month
• With this information, reviewing ways to reduce the amount of food waste produced

Olympia London has sent zero waste to landfill for over a decade; with a recycling rate of 98 per cent and the remaining two per cent sent to an anaerobic digestion plant, where green energy and fertiliser are produced. The venue’s goal is to completely eradicate food waste.

In the past year, Olympia London has further optimised waste segregation across onsite catering. This facilitates the process when using food waste for bio fuel purposes.

In addition, food surplus left onsite is distributed to those who need the most through a partnership with City Harvest. The charity distributes more than 12 tonnes of food every week, which benefits the local community; including Barons Court Project, Olympia London’s nominated charity of the year.

A partnership between onsite catering partners and some event organisers ensures excess edible food is distributed to local food banks.

The venue recently introduced a ‘pop-up’ restaurant with a plant-based menu. Available to organisers, it can be purpose-built on the show-floor to suit each event layout. The menu, portion sizes and operation have been designed to reduce food waste, producing less than two per cent waste, compared to a 37 per cent industry average; meeting visitor demand for a healthier and more sustainability-conscious offer.

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