“Dramatically changing how a caterer provides and serves F&B to their customers may suit current marketing messages but isn’t it important we take the time to actually work out what’s best for the environment and for the client?” asks Marc Frankl, Food and Beverage Director at Amadeus.
It’s a fair question. By acting too fast a business may choose a short-term solution which doesn’t actually have the desired long-term impact or indeed look after the planet. However, in the defence of some companies, their clients are facing pressures from their employees or visitors, so you can see why many caterers are frantically trying to remove plastic straws or pledge to reduce something by sometime. Marc and Amadeus believe fully in the importance of investing in the planet but also understand that jumping the gun can have the wrong results.
“I ask the above question with the confidence of knowing 98% of our disposable packaging spend is on sustainable products. We have been looking at our impact on the environment for many years – but particularly after the 2012 Summer Olympics where we were selected as the main caterer, working with suppliers to make it the biggest zero waste event in history.” Marc says.
He explains that having the right sustainable strategies needs be aligned to the venue or client because all must be pulling in the same direction. “We meet clients every day and listen to their expectations and desires. I’m always delighted to explain how 98% of our disposable packaging spend is on sustainable products and its brilliant seeing their faces light up when they become aware of what we’re achieving. However, we also explain that the onus for sustainability often falls on the caterer, which is fine, we want to make a difference, but it’s important to find a balance with a venue too. We believe it’s only by working closely with our clients and suppliers to understand the challenges around waste management that we can achieve real sustainability. For example, at the NEC – one of our biggest clients – The venue operates a zero to landfill model with any residual waste that cannot be recycled converted into energy for local homes and businesses. We also work to ensure as little food as possible is wasted, but what’s left is transported by the venue to Severn Trent Green Power’s food waste anaerobic digestion plant and processed into energy, with the resulting compost used as fertiliser by local farmers.”
Transforming a business overnight won’t happen but progress can be made with the right vision and objectives. Amadeus are clearly using their influence to encourage wider action on environment sustainability and Marc is keen to point out that they are constantly exploring different ways to improve sustainability – be that compostable, recyclable or bio-degradable – alongside all diverse range of venues it caters in.
He also acknowledges that some industries or venues bring with them restrictions, “Many arena venues have policies that require all drinks receptacles to be crushable underfoot due to health and safety regulations – so in this case, it wouldn’t be suitable to introduce reusable cups to the venue. Plastic is also sometimes the most sustainable option available – for example, if a venue currently has the capacity to recycle plastic, but not an alternative, like compostable cups.
“Our aim is not to use these conditions as excuses but instead it drives us to innovate and challenge current situations. The other fun part is motivating our employees, so they also understand the challenges and solutions being worked on – and I mean all employees in every aspect of our business.”
Amadeus are proud but don’t always shout about their achievements in this space. This is simply because they believe with getting on with doing the right thing. However, they also fully believe in educating others so are working hard to communicate their messaging beyond the internal.
Amadeus have gone from strength to strength in ensuring there are as environmentally friendly as possible. 80% of their food and beverage suppliers can be found within a 30-mile radius of the venues they cater at, and they’re committed to supporting local communities too – 60% of their food and beverage suppliers are small and medium sized enterprises.
The leading food service company are also aware that whilst all the recent insight into eco-friendly approaches and materials is needed, moving too fast may not be as friendly as we all believe. With Marc championing their approach and the caterer clearly achieving lots, Amadeus have strong environmental commitment. They believe in doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way.