September 19, 2021

Catering waste – rethink it now

Catering waste is the airline industry’s dirty little secret. Marc Warde insists it’s time to raise awareness in the campaign for change.

With sustainability now firmly on the agenda, it is surely time to tackle catering waste. When you experience this first hand it is utterly shocking and I, like many, have been appalled to see it, and bemused by the legislation that insists on incinerating it all, which doesn’t help.

We all know there has to be change but what is the solution? Buy-before-you fly and pre-ordering all food for all classes would be revolutionary if it happened. Passengers could either pick up or select at the gate or pre-order so only food certain to be consumed would be loaded. It’s already happening on some short-haul and low-cost routes and airports too are offering at-gate deliveries for their outlet sales, so it can be done.

Tell it straight
Of course in Business and First this may be a tougher sell. These passengers want choices but do they even know some choices result in food going in the bin? Controversial as it may seem, raising awareness of this would make a switch to pre-order easier. If they knew the reality, they could hardly condone the waste they are inadvertently creating unless they accepted the change. Special meal ordering systems could easily be extended to make this work.

Sustainability is now as much an issue for the priveleged in premium cabins as for the rest of us so is fine bone china and crystal glass really right any more? More sustainable rotable solutions exist and surely every facet needs attention. Clearly if most of the traffic is in the back of the aircraft it is a sensible place to start but all areas must be examined.

Make a change
There are changes buyers can make. Sourcing locally where possible, using alternative meat proteins and championing trustworthy artisan producers helps address the issue and gives kudos to your menus. Look everywhere from the rubber on the tyres to the tea and the tea cup. Small things do make a difference and every little bit helps. Promote everything you’re doing and ask your customers to invest in your sustainability initiatives too. Look at the big and but embrace small changes too. It is vital to simply start the journey towards a better way of doing things.

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