ETHICAL DINING LEAVES A BETTER TASTE IN THE MOUTH
Posted by Kieran Whiteside
As the world marks World Environment Day, it is the perfect moment to inspire more progress by celebrating the good work and progress the hospitality industry is making in addressing a simple truth; that what we drink and eat has a massive impact on our planet.
The United Nations says we have at most a decade to limit a climate change catastrophe, so it’s important we all play our role in reducing our impact on the environment, from governments to businesses and individuals. Despite much debate about planes and cars, it is the food and drink industry with the highest carbon footprint.
In fact, WaterAid’s recently published a report ‘Beneath the Surface’, showing how what we eat and wear can also have a significant water footprint, with one cup of coffee requiring just 200ml of actual water to make, yet the ground coffee takes 140 litres to produce. This demonstrates our challenge is way beyond that of packaging (and the current focus of consumer challenges.)
Addressing how the industry can reduce its overall environmental impact, our partner the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) recently released a report titled the ‘Tastiest Challenge on the Planet’. In it, they set out ambitious targets for the UK foodservice sector to seek new and varied ways to be more sustainable, from reducing the amount of meat on the menu, to food in the bin and use of plastic and packaging in their operations.
Referred to by Raymond Blanc OBE as, ‘the Michelin stars of sustainability’, the SRA’s Sustainability Rating provides an annual benchmark for industry progress towards sustainability goals. With members of the Food Made Good programme spanning 10,000 foodservice sites, 2018 highlights include:
- 62% of members reported giving vegetable-based dishes greater prominence on their menu
- 87% are measuring and monitoring food waste
- 73% of supplier packaging was reused or recycled in 2018 – up from 61% on the previous year
At Belu we find ourselves as one of an increasing number of social enterprises continually pushing for an incremental step change towards solving a problem in whichever industries we are in.
Our end game is that we give 100% of profits to WaterAid, helping get clean water and good sanitation to everyone everywhere while also boosting communities’ resilience to climate change. But to get to that point we need to continually innovate to play our part responsibly and help drive the change we need to make as a sector.
Since 2012, we have made our plastic bottles from recycled plastic bottles, we have the lightest glass bottles possible and operate within a UK closed loop system, whilst reducing our carbon emissions wherever we can and offsetting the rest.
The hospitality industry must continue embracing new products and methods of working. In our case where businesses are able to take the step of not being dependant on sales of mineral water, the Belu Filter Initiative can help the outlet remove water in single-use formats, providing a free water filtration system. In return, the hotel or restaurant simply adds a voluntary £1 contribution to each guest’s bill for unlimited still and sparkling filtered water which we then pass on to WaterAid.
For many, we’ve seen that the move to lose this revenue is simply a step too far in these already challenging trading times. However, we can still celebrate the progress being made, be inspired by others and their progress, challenge ourselves and each other to do more and together take responsibility. Above all, let us become better collaborators, as we are far stronger and more resilient together than we are divided.
By Karen Lynch, CEO of Belu Water