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Gram’s Go Green Summit set the sustainable scene

A long standing topic for debate in the foodservice arena – sustainability – was tackled head on this month as Gram UK, supported by Winterhalter hosted the very first Go Green Summit, at sustainable venue The Charlotte Street Hotel, London.

Joined by some of the most influential names in the industry Gram invited delegates to reconsider sustainability’s position within foodservice, as well as taking a look at the future of the industry and the role of sustainability within it.

Wrap’s hospitality and foodservice programme manager, Charlotte Henderson, opened the inaugural summit with a look at the current state of the foodservice industry. Charlotte shared some startling figures on how much waste is produced within the hospitality and foodservice industry annually, with a reported one third of all food produced globally wasted, valued at a staggering £600bn. Perhaps even more concerning is that of the 1million tonnes of food wasted, three quarters could have been eaten.  These alarming figures need to infiltrate deeper into the industry, reaching operators and those in a position to address these issues and begin to make the changes required. The Go Green Summit began to put into motion a change in the thought processes of the audience and asked them to question how much lack of understanding and awareness is a key driver in preventing the foodservice industry from moving forward.

Applying the theory and practice of cycling is perhaps the best way to approach sustainability within the industry suggests Charlotte. Using the analogy of David Brailsford’s ‘aggregation of marginal gains’, Charlotte suggested that by making a conscientious effort to make even the smallest one percent change to each element of sustainability, from energy costs, to staff labour and wastage the gains will be become apparent as each marginal increase accumulates to make a substantial change to a business.

Charlotte’s powerful presentation was followed by an insightful talk by Dominic Burbridge, associate director at The Carbon Trust, on how going green can help to keep operators in the black. Building on Charlotte’s presentation, Dominic had his own set of figures to share, stating that up to 70 percent of a businesses’ energy bill comes from the kitchen. Acknowledging that changes need to be implemented from the ground up, a lack of knowledge on how to properly operate kitchen equipment was cited as a key factor in the astronomical energy bills hospitality businesses face. Moving forward, Dominic advised that catering businesses need a strategy in order to cut costs and carbon and this needs to include measuring, managing, reducing and communicating environmental impact in order to unlock competitive advantage. Using a series of case studies including Whitbread, Mitchells & Butlers and Winterhalter, Dominic illustrated ways in which this could be done.

The second half of the summit was opened by Chris Moore, chief executive at The Clink Restaurant & The Clink Charity, along with Andrew Powis, co-founder of Sterling Food Service Design. The Summit’s third session asked the audience to readdress how they view sustainability, with Chris suggesting that sustainability goes further than choosing energy efficient equipment and reducing waste, but that the sustainability of people is equally important. Investing in the future of prisoners who with the help of The Clink leave prison with an employable skill set is one way to do this. Andrew Powis, who designed the smart layout of The Clink’s kitchens with the help and generosity of FCSI members, provided a range of donated or reduced cost equipment to help ensure the kitchens were equipped with the most sustainable equipment on the market, making The Clink sustainable in every sense of the word.

The penultimate session was lead by Keith Warren, director at CESA UK (Catering Equipment Supplies Association) who firmly stated that it was the early adopters of sustainability that would prosper in the industry. Keith also talked the audience through the benefits and potential implications of the imminent launch of the EU Ecodesign directive scheduled for implementation in July 2016. The new labeling regulations is sure to put increased pressure on refrigeration manufacturers, but the impartial rating system means that customers can have renewed faith in the products they purchase and a measuring system against which to benchmark their energy costs. There will be some backlash from the introduction of the new labeling scheme with some refrigeration units not making the minimum G grade required, thus bringing their production to a halt. Keith continued on a more positive note stating that ultimately the directive would only benefit the industry by requiring new innovation within the market; with an aim to reduce global emissions by 60 percent by 2050 and ultimately creating a common legal framework that applies to all countries

The Go Green Summit was brought to a close by Glenn Roberts Gram UK’s managing director, Andy Blake, Winterhalter’s commercial director and Stuart Long, sales and marketing director at MKN as they held a Q&A for the audience and discussed the future of the industry. Andy Blake stated that the EU Ecodesign directive will have a positive impact on the industry as it is impartial and the panel agreed that a measuring system for ware washing and prime cooking is required for the progress of the industry in the future.

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