FCSI Education Day puts food waste and GDPR in the spotlight

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FCSI UK & Ireland’s Education Day offered attendees the chance to get to grips with the crucial issues facing foodservice and hospitality, reports Thomas Lawrence

On 16 May, the cream of the foodservice crop gathered at London’s Royal Over Seas League, a stone’s throw away from Green Park. The afternoon’s talks were dominated by two topics that have taken the foodservice and hospitality industries by storm in 2018: food waste and GDPR.

The event kicked off as representatives from across the industry took to the stage to offer their perspectives on the food waste outlook.

War on waste

The first session saw speeches from Meiko’s Mick Jary, IMC’s Steve Witt and Lugano Kapembwa from the Canary Wharf Group and LUKAP Consulting. Each explained their own experience of cutting down waste long-term for their clients.

“I was once told if you could make food waste sexy you wouldn’t have a problem”, said Witt. Although admitting he wasn’t quite there yet, Witt argued putting some money back in peoples’ pockets by offering food audits and future proof technology was the key for clients. IMC’s solution is the Wastestation, an example of how far and how fast food waste technology is advancing. Centrifugal force accelerates the dewatering process, facilitating further food processing.

Lugano Kapembwa’s talk provided an interesting case study on how combining communication and technology transforms behaviour. At 97 acres, the Canary Wharf Estate is a waste ecosystem all of its own. Based on the premise that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” Kapembwa oversaw a standardised waste management system allowing resource flows to be mapped and tenants to see precisely how much waste they are creating. This comes alongside attention-grabbing initiatives like the forthcoming “three weeks campaign”, which will see all plastic straws banned on the Estate in an effort to change wasteful habits.

Mick Jary spelt out Meiko’s guiding principles when installing waste management systems for clients; integrating it into kitchen workflows, eliminating odour, future-proofing projects and complying with existing and forthcoming legislation. This last point was an important one, with Jary predicting new legislation clamping down on food waste would emerge within the next 18 months.

Legislation consternation

Jary set the stage for CESA’s Keith Warren to discuss the outlook for waste legislation across the UK and its future direction. Warren pointed out that European directives on waste have driven British legislation forward in recent years, but anticipated legislative momentum would continue and gather pace despite the shock of Brexit. Circular economy initiatives in particular are a key focus for policymakers.

With the overall sustainability picture so varied across Europe – Germany has achieved over 80% reprocessing rates, while Estonia has scarcely got off the ground – latecomers are encouraged to turn their attention to existing success stories. This is true even within countries, with Warren arguing Wales continued to set the pace within the UK. He urged consultants to look to these examples in order to “keep the door open to innovative solutions.”

Talk then turned to the legislation at the forefront of everyone’s minds: GDPR. Foodservice Consultant’s primer on the topic should give industry professionals everything they need to prepare for the deadline and make the most of the new rules. Gary Brooks emphasised compliance with the law and protecting data are “two sides to the GDPR coin”; a timely reminder with 25th May the cutoff point for businesses to get their data policies prepared

Tying all the afternoon’s themes together was Kafoodle’s Tarryn Gore. The company’s digital food tracking solution offers custom meal plans which could circumvent allergies and help solve malnourishment. With 31 trillion dollars of potential savings from food waste on offer from the switch to healthy diets, it’s an indication that the waste fighting impetus from both regulators and the industry is building in tempo all the time.

Thomas Lawrence