I am sure that you have already asked yourself this question at an event: “where does all the food that is not eaten end up?” And everyone subconsciously knows the answer: the trash.
Three years ago, my business partner Maurizio Chicco and I, created OneHouseStand: a marketplace aimed at giving access to event organisers – both companies and individuals – to unique and privately-owned venues, while digitising and making transparent the event sector. Our goal has been partially accomplished: (a) almost 300 impressive and privately-owned venues are available throughout Belgium and suitable for any types of events and (b) more than 500 events have been organised via OneHouseStand’s platform. OneHouseStand has often been qualified as a sort of “Airbnb for events” (at a very smaller scale of course!).
These three years have unfortunately also showed us a less attractive side of the sector in which we operate: nearly one third of the food served at any given event ends up in the trash!
Indeed, OneHouseStand also allows you to book a catering service through our network of partner caterers. In the selection of our partners, we choose structures that are sensitive to the environment and food waste. For example, one of our partner caterer plants one tree for every purchase of €500. So, it means that for an event amounting to €3,000, 6 trees will be planted.
Most of our clients work with our partner caterers, while others prefer to work with their usual caterers.
There is no doubt that several caterers and event organisers are sensitive to this issue and try to find solutions to reduce this waste. However, it is currently impossible to effectively redistribute food that is not consumed during an event. Only food that has not been processed, such as fruits and vegetables, and which will have respected the cold chain, can be redistributed via, notably, food banks.
Being allergic to food waste, we decided to act. But how? And by doing what?
The Zero Waste Box
As mentioned above, it is currently impossible (with rare exceptions) to redistribute uneaten food at an event while complying with the rules of the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC). We are not talking here about the resale or the redistribution of unsold goods from stores or supermarkets, where many solutions against food waste already exist (the choice is theirs to use these solutions or not). We are talking about uneaten food at private events.
We want to eliminate this “fatality of the trash” by allowing the participants to an event, organised through our platform, to leave with the uneaten food and consume it later, share it with their family or even give it to people in difficulty.
That’s why, starting April 1st, 2019, we will be distributing – free of charge – at all events organised on OneHouseStand, our Zero Waste Box, made from 100% recyclable, compostable and biodegradable cardboard. Our partner caterers will fill these boxes with uneaten food and they will make them available to participants to take them home after the event. For our clients who decide to use caterers who are not part of our network of partners, we will also offer them, free of charge too, of our Zero Waste Box.
Some will simply comment: “In short, you distribute doggy bags? “. Absolutely! There is nothing less elegant and criminal than throwing food in the trash. It’s time to change that.
Organising events differently
Our goal is to make aware event organisers on their responsibilities towards food waste. It is 100% feasible to reduce the food waste during an event to minimal thresholds.
As OneHouseStand has become a major player in the organisation of private events in Belgium, we feel like we have a moral obligation towards our environment. We invite all event organisers to follow us in this process which will be our first action towards a responsible and sustainable event organisation.