Foodservice forum: CSR

How do you promote CSR?

Ian Thomas, CEO, Bartlett Mitchell
While we have always had a robust and long-term corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan and strategy in place, we have used the opportunity provided by the pandemic to review how we intend to focus our priorities based on the vastly different landscape before us. With that in mind, we are working even more closely with Planet Mark to drive through activity that is aligned to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The Planet Mark programme still acts as an impactful framework to help us scrutinise our Co2 per headcount. As a food business, we are really able to contribute to many of the commitments identified in the SDGs, helping to do our part to help reach the 2030 target set by the United Nations General Assembly.

For example, and with the fallout of Covid in mind, we know that there are three immediate areas of focus for our business. These include food waste and how we are using the BM Wasted training programme to measure and reduce waste. Wasted offers chefs and our teams the opportunity to learn about how they can make the absolute most of any ingredient. The uncertainty around workplace volumes and capacity make this vital.

In addition, focusing on packaging and the removal of single-use plastics on site is also important in the coming months. Covid has seen a shift in consumer behaviour, with more usage largely brought about through concerns around hygiene. We know it is vital to re-engage clients and customers with the efforts we all need to go to in order to use single-use plastics appropriately. For example, we have sites that have introduced all metal cutlery or an all china plate policy in their restaurants. We cannot lose this momentum.

Another key priority for the immediate future is looking at how we are tackling energy usage. The pandemic, and subsequent shifts in kitchen equipment usage, means we need to take a closer look at how we are managing our energy wastage. While the pandemic has been devastating for our sector, it has also provided us with an opportunity to reset our activity and look at how we can revise, revise and re-engage our teams and clients.

Carolyn Ball, director of Delivery of Net Zero, Compass Group UK and Ireland
Successfully embedding CSR as a core business objective is about how effectively an organisation can inspire, engage and act. To promote and educate are vitally important, but they’re not enough on their own.

We’re motivated by the need to get two fundamental things ‘right’, so that economically, socially and environmentally doing the right thing is universally felt as the foremost, fundamental part of Compass’ culture. The first step is investing in systemic operational change and being brave enough to enable it. The second is recognising how important it is to access the emotional drivers in each of us. We are all humans first and employees second.

Why people care about sustainability personally is our best clue as to why they’ll care about it professionally. So we have to listen, as well as promote. How we do this at Compass and, more importantly, how we translate our learnings into actions, demands that we recognise three key business realities:

  1. We operate in an incredibly complex environment where niche approaches won’t work at scale. Our partnerships span generations and regions. We look after people at work, at leisure, in education, defence and in a range of healthcare settings – across 6,000 locations in the UK and Ireland. This reach and diversity demands unprecedented levels of creativity and coalition, because in order to truly operate sustainably, we need to unite all sectors with an all-encompassing approach.
  2. Experiencing our food and services is not always the main reason our customers come to see us. We connect with millions of people every day because they are visiting the places where we work. They are coming for the football, an education, to get better (or visit someone who is), or to work – and many more reasons. More of them want to know CSR is high on the list, but it’s not their priority in these settings and none of them want to be preached at. Invisibly doing the right thing here often takes priority.
  3. Our food is sourced through an enormously complex supply chain. Our teams take delivery of hundreds of thousands of different ingredients, which are themselves sourced from multiple different places. There are so many actors across this value chain and to really embed ‘CSR’, every single one of them needs to be active in driving change. They need to see themselves as being a much valued and needed participant, not a passive observer.

Our commitment to reach Climate Net Zero by 2030 will see us keenly focused on all three points. It is the most ambitious target made by the industry to date, and I’m proud to work with such talented teams and to have joined both the Race to Zero and Business Ambition for 1.5°C.

Clare Lovett, managing director, Relish School Food
As a business, we are committed to delivering a clearly defined environmental and social sustainability strategy, to highlight and cover key issues across the areas outlined below. We communicate this strategy, not only across our internal teams, but also by way of literature, promotions, marketing initiatives, and theme days and events with our clients, pupils, parents and suppliers. 

Packaging: In addition to tasking our suppliers to remove their delivery packaging wherever possible, we have also removed single-use plastic across our operation, together with replacing bulkier food display packaging with simpler, kinder products. For example, our sandwiches are served in cardboard packaging and hand-held snacks served on paper. We’ve even gone one step further by making the container itself edible, creating items such as taco boats, taco baskets and fajitas.  

Waste management: We utilise our Relish-OPS (operating and procurement system) technology to electronically record any waste by portion or stock item to ensure close monitoring and management. Working with one of our biggest suppliers, we are also able to ensure that 90% of waste paper, cardboard, plastic and pallet wrappings goes to recycling. Furthermore, we work with local councils to weigh, measure and record our waste. We then use the results as a target to reduce it further across each reporting period, declaring the results to key stakeholders. 

Food wastage: We are avid supporters of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, which we champion across our schools to ensure we reduce our waste to an absolute minimum. For example, we use every single part of the chickens we purchase. The stalks of broccoli and cauliflower hold so much goodness that we use them across several dishes. By conducting food tastings prior to a menu going live, we are able to analyse a dish's popularity to dramatically reduce food waste. We’re proud to support an on-site school farm with cooked kitchen and dining room waste for the pigs and raw vegetable cuttings for other animals. Additionally, we have an agreement for all waste oil used in our cooking to be collected for use as bio-diesel. 

Energy efficiency: We have committed to ensuring all newly-purchased food production and display equipment is energy efficient. Equally, we utilise batch cooking methods to maximise energy efficiency. 

Water consumption: In order to reduce our water consumption, we have initiated steam cooking in preference over boiling. Importantly, we have implemented the Plan. Do. Check. Act model across our business to continually improve on our environmental impact. 

You may also be interested in…