Sustainable futures

Sustainability is a broad discipline which seeks to optimise and maintain paradigms such as economic stability, social mobility and of course, ecological longevity. Thought leaders across the globe agree that our exhaustive utilisation of non-renewable resources, our sub-optimal disposal systems and consumption of water and energy intensive foods must be advanced or developed to ensure the protection, preservation and optimisation of our environment for future generations.

It’s not just our future generations that will benefit from increased sustainable practice – if we, as organisations, pledge to deliver sustainable practice both internally and to our clients, we have an opportunity to initiate change and influence leadership towards a better today, that is cognisant of the ecological urgency we face both as a nation, and as a world.

We at The Russell Partnership have been passionate about delivering sustainable, commercially viable and practical food and beverage solutions since the beginning. Whist we have been established for over 27 years and lifelong supporters of environmentalism, our catalyst for significant transformation began during our appointment as Food and Beverage consultants for the London 2012 Olympic Games. As a team, we led the creation and successful delivery of the Food Strategy for the London Olympic Games in 2012, with a passion to deliver the ‘greenest Games ever’. The process included evaluating scale and scope across 100+ locations, identifying trends applicable in 2012, developing 500+ concepts of operation, creating a financial model to forecast revenue and cost by multiple criteria fields, calculating venue allocation for front and back of house space, undertaking national supply chain and service delivery capability, providing industry communication, identifying the procurement approach, supporting venue design and creation of the Vision – For Starters – the first Olympic Food Strategy. In terms of sustainability, we focused on the provision of food and beverage that was Fairtrade, aligned with animal welfare regulations and was from British farms. So, why is this relevant? Major Events are the catalyst for a systematic shift in public and corporate perceptions and action. Driving positive change via large scale events will percolate through the market, and as such operations within Olympic Games, World Expos and Major Events must be carefully considered due to their high influence potential. Our involvement with the London 2012 Olympic Games took us on a journey that drove our organisation towards the global stage. We humbly utilise these opportunities to embody and embrace just some of our passions – client fulfilment, healthier eating for all and sustainable food and beverage practice.

The Russell Partnership were delighted to appointed as Food & Beverage and Hospitality Consultants for Expo 2020 Dubai in 2016. A key subtheme of Expo 2020 Dubai is sustainability – specifically, exploring techniques to pursue progress without compromising the fundamental needs of future generations. Dubai will hold the world’s most sustainable Expo in history during 2020 – sustainable thought informed every aspect of the Dubai Expo 2020 bid, from its philosophy to the design and construction of the site. The Russell Partnerships appointment to Expo 2020 Dubai has delivered the opportunity to drive sustainable food and beverage procurement, preparation, packaging, distribution and disposal solutions on a global scale. Over 20 million visitors will attend Expo 2020 Dubai from October 2020 – April 2021, and through our collaboration with the Expo 2020 Dubai team there is opportunity to educate and inspire a generation towards a sustainable future.

Our recommendations to Expo 2020 and all clients are bespoke and tailored to the brief or the project. We know that personalised guidance is the key to optimising food and beverage processes and delivery within organisations. Nonetheless, there are key paradigms and practices that are universally accepted as sustainably constructive, and as such are often the foundations of our wider food and beverage strategies.

Most pertinently to our role as Food and Beverage strategic consultants is to reflect on the food and beverage provision or offer – however, connecting the story behind our food to is not always easy to do. Although it can be complex, disconcerting and most importantly, eye opening – we seek to consider how foods such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs are contributing to global human inequalities, species depletion and ecological injustice. We understand the urgency in modifying dietary provision and food education on an industry level to enable efficient, effective and crucial progress towards a sustainable future. From our global research, we accept and understand that animal agriculture is responsible for approximately 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.

Even without utilisation of fossil fuels across the globe, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals for consumption. Furthermore, animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34–76 trillion gallons annually and is responsible for 80–90% of American water consumption. Comparatively, hydraulic fracturing water use ranges from 70–140 billion gallons annually. Our research has concluded that three-quarters of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted; upsettingly, we could see fishless oceans by 2048 due to the 2.7 trillion animals pulled from the ocean each year for consumption.

We note and accept that the way forward is not necessarily about eating no animal products at all – as this is an impractical, unviable and unrealistic prospect. Instead, we challenge how meat and animal products have moved from the periphery to the centre of human diet – something that is now a block on creating a more equitable and sustainable world.

The Russell Partnership recognises the environmental impact of animal products, from an energy, water and species depletion aspect, however is cognisant and respectful of people’s lifestyle preferences and taste profiles. As such, we habitually recommend a food and beverage provision that focuses on fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans – whilst recommending sustainably sourced fish and lean meats as periphery products. This is not only a step in the right direction for sustainability, but has excellent health and vitality value – according to our three qualified nutritional therapists!

Whilst we often make recommendations on food provision, our services also extend to the procurement and preparation of food and beverage products. The Russell Partnership embraces and recommends innovations within agriculture, such as Hydroponics, where appropriate. This is the method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. This offers exceptional levels of control over nutrients, light, water, temperature and other environmental factors, facilitating the opportunity to optimise growing and maximise yields, even in limited space.

Hydroponics is very efficient in its use of water, as the tanks and the gaps between the plants are covered in order to reduce the effect of evaporation. Running water below the plants rather than overhead watering also increases water efficiency, and all unused water goes back to the tank and is recycled so there are no drainage losses. Cumulatively, this means there is potential to utilise as little as one tenth of the water that a typical garden would consume.

Similarly, we recognise that equipment utilised within commercial kitchens is often only 50% efficient. Low capital cost can drive the choice of equipment with little consideration for the whole life-cycle cost of the product. As such, we recommend to our client’s specific energy-efficient equipment, cooking techniques and innovations to ecologically optimise food preparation, storage, equipment and menu design.

Our passion, drive and integrity towards a sustainable future endures. Our innovations and research team drive internal knowledge of sustainability through up-to-the-minute research into cutting edge technologies, innovations and practices that will optimise food and beverage solutions for our clients in sustainable, unique and realistic ways.

We know that the future depends on organisations and thought leaders within large sectors acknowledging the requirement for sustainable solutions across a multitude of disciplines. So, let’s work together on bringing disciplines, sectors and industries together to drive positive change towards a brighter, cleaner and greener world.