Are we in the dark ages when it comes to food waste?


EP was delighted to host a breakfast discussion on sustainability at Nomura PLC. Sponsored by Winnow Solutions, the aim of the event was to bring to the table senior leaders in an effort to identify what challeges the sector is currently facing when it comes to food waste and what measures need to be taken to make sure businesses can do more.

Keynote speakers included Edwina Hughes, Corporate Responsibility Manager of Sodexo UK & Ireland, Ian Thomas, CEO of Bartlett Mitchell, and Marc Zornes, Co-Founder of Winnow Solutions.

If we look at the past, sustainability is certainly going from the periphery to the centre. How can we make sure there is a greater change taking place? How can we instil a sustainable culture within business and society?

Edwina Hughes, Corporate Responsibility Manager of Sodexo UK & Ireland



Edwina Hughes, Corporate Responsibility Manager of Sodexo UK & Ireland

Edwina Hughes emphasised the need for a more compehensive approach to business that brings value into society.

How can we rethink the way we eat and consume? From a cultural perspective, the underlying element is our relationship with food, which shall be based on what is good for human wellbeing and for the planet.

The second element is what businesses can do to make sure that cultural change happens? United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are pushing forward the social agenda by setting out concrete steps to be undertaken not only by governments but also by the business sector.

Supporting small businesses to bring value to local communities is certainly a step forward in this regard.
Ian Thomas, CEO of Bartlett Mitchell

Ian Thomas stressed the importance of supporting a sustainable economy. Raising awareness both within the company and society has become increasingly important. Leaders must take responsiblity and be ready to support social values. By making sure that sustainability is not just a PR piece but becoming incorporated into teams’ behaviour change can take place. What are companies doing to engage their team and make them aware of how much they are wasting?

On the operation’s side, supply chain has a huge potential to reduce waste. The introduction of KPIs and target-led management systems is certainly a best practice that many companies should adopt.

Marc Zornes, Co-Founder of Winnow Solutions

Marc Zornes noted that despite the many initiatives undertaken by large companies, our society is still living in the dark ages when it comes to food waste. The missing piece relies in the lack of public commitments from business leaders that would drive change. Companies should indeed step up and make more aggressive committments.
Today, 15% of the total greenhouse gases are produced by food waste. This is an enormous amount and at the moment we are only “scratching the surface”.

How can we push the sustainability agenda further? The economic rationale behind tackling food waste is one that will help sustainability moving from the periphery to the centre. Food waste is not only morally wrong but it is also the cause of huge costs for hospitality businesses.

Companies are willing to share and tackle the issues but there is a fear that may impact them financially. For this reason, the way forward is make sure that hospitality operators can reduce food waste while improving the efficiency of their kitchens. Winnow Solutions currently operates in 14 countries and will reach 25 countries soon, showing there is a real economic advantage in creating a link between reducing costs and tackling food waste.






Following the discussion, the below points were raised:

  • It is important that businesses communicate to customers their objectives in order to raise awareness at a wider level.
  • The industry needs to get together and set some standards: What are doing as a sector? How we add value to the organisation with better space management, smarter design etc.? We are 15-20% behind.
  • Companies shall promote fresh food production VS frozen food to limit the impact of wastage.
  • Companies should tackle food waste because it is a pressing issue rather than constantly competing one against each other.
  • Around 80-100 tons of food is wasted in shopping centres. There is a need to implement programmes at a top down level and that becomes part of their operation.

Culturally there needs to be a shift in the way we think about food and customers. Companies should raise awareness on “ugly food” and make sure this is not to be antagonised.




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