Sustainable festival catering

Public or private catering...
some sustainable tips

Whether you are selling pitches for outlets catering to the public or providing catering for staff, there are a number of questions you should be asking if you want to improve your sustainability.

Keep your suppliers/contractors as local as possible, this not only keeps travel down to a minimum but it also helps to keep money circulating within the local community.

Check on the provenance of the food and drink, for instance is it locally produced, is it organic, free range, Freedom Foods, Fair Trade etc. There are a large number of different standards that food can be labelled with.

The key criteria to aim for, whatever the standard, are as follows (in no particular order):

Locally produced
Minimum processing
Minimum packaging
High standards of animal welfare
Sensible usage of fertiliser whether organic or inorganic
Minimal usage of pesticides whether organic or inorganic
Try to ensure any packaging that the food and drink arrives in is recyclable and is recycled
Ban the plastic bag from all of your outlets. There are plenty of good, sustainable options available and it sends a clear message about your intentions.
Insist that any crockery and cutlery are re-usable within any seated catering venues

Where take-away catering is provided, there are a number of crockery and cutlery options:

Catering at Hay Festval

Insist on compostable items and provide suitable waste containers
Sell re-usable crockery at the outlets e.g. bio-plastic pint glasses
Use recyclable items and provide a cleaning service (contaminated items cannot be recycled)

If you are providing staff catering, plan the meals to allow ordering in bulk, reducing transport, packaging and also cutting costs
Avoid single sachets of salt/sugar/coffee etc. The packaging is wasteful and due to the small size they can easily end up scattered around your site.

Provide water standpipes with push button taps around your site and make sure drinking water taps are clearly identified. Encourage people to refill water bottles rather than buying more and more bottled water.
Offer all the used coffee grounds for the public to compost
Donate surplus food to local charity – make sure you abide by all relevant Environmental Health Legislation regarding sell by dates etc.

Related Links

Food Standards Agency –
Fair Trade –
Farmers Markets –
Soil Association –
Organic Wales –