Catered events are an excellent way for companies to celebrate their employees and treat them for their accomplishments. These meals validate employees and are integral to maintaining a top-notch company culture.
In 2023, businesses are considering sustainability in every facet of operations. So how can they incorporate eco-friendliness into their catered events? The first step is finding sustainable vendors.
This article outlines the importance of sustainability and how businesses can evaluate vendors for their environmental impact.
Why Are Sustainable Vendors Important?
Since the pandemic, organizations worldwide have focused more on sustainability and green initiatives. Inside the company, leaders have changed their operations by lowering waste, using sustainable materials and reducing energy consumption.
Outside the office, businesses have stressed green policies with their business partners. Choosing sustainable vendors is critical for the following:
- Employees: The importance of sustainability starts with the employees. The pandemic spurred widespread resignation as workers left their jobs for companies that better aligned with their beliefs, with sustainability being one of them. The vendors a company chooses reflect on themselves and their goals. A 2020 survey shows 65% of workers are more likely to choose a company with strong environmental policies.
- Suppliers: Sustainability is becoming increasingly critical in a company’s supplier relationships. The effects of global warming are apparent daily, so more organizations are pledging to only work with businesses that practice environmental consciousness. Many companies have swapped to sustainable strategies due to calls from investors and customers.
- Customers: The modern-day consumer has become much more intelligent. In the past few years, people have become more educated on sustainability and have shown their desire for it with their wallets. A 2022 study shows that two-thirds of buyers are willing to pay more for a product if they believe it’s more sustainable.
How Can Companies Find Sustainable Vendors?
Sustainability matters at every point in the supply chain, and it’s something companies should consider even for corporate events. When planning these occasions, a business should look at these six factors to determine which vendors to choose.
The first aspect to consider about sustainability is the location. How far away is the vendor from the event’s location? Where does the vendor source their food? These questions are pertinent to ask because they factor into their sustainability factor.
The most sustainable way a caterer can source food is through local suppliers. For example, the produce would come from a farmers market, and they obtain meat from a local butcher. This method is more environmentally friendly because the food requires much less travel before it ends on a plate. Local produce is typically better for employees because it’s fresher and in-season.
The next factor a business should evaluate is the availability of meat-free options. The selected caterer should include vegan and vegetarian options for inclusivity and sustainability. Some people practice veganism to improve their health or for moral reasons. Eating meatless food has become more popular, with about 7% of adults between 18 and 49 saying they consider themselves vegetarian.
Meat-free options are also critical for a caterer’s footprint. Meat, especially from livestock, has harmed the planet in the last century. Animals like cows emit methane that contributes to global warming by trapping heat in the atmosphere. A Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report shows that livestock is responsible for 14.5% of the planet’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The caterer should carry foods that require low emissions in production.
Foods like fruits and vegetables are lower in emissions than meat. However, even meat-free options vary in their impact on the planet. For example, companies often produce coffee unsustainably. They require deforestation to make room for coffee beans, leading to significant carbon emissions from cut trees. Some producers use deforestation to access palm oil for food items like pizza dough.
When planning a catered event, planners should consider potato-based foods. Spuds are ideal for consumption because they lower GHG emissions than rice or pasta. Research shows that potatoes require significantly less water for production than rice. Potatoes need about 53 gallons of water to produce two pounds, but rice needs nearly 294 gallons for an equivalent amount.
Food is only one part of a catered event. A company should also consider the tableware that catering services use. Many of these businesses have single-use silverware and paper products that end up in the trash can. Estimates show that Americans throw away 40 billion pieces of plastic cutlery annually. These forks, knives and spoons end up in landfills and harm the environment.
Sustainable vendors use reusable items like bowls, cups and plates. Instead of plastic, they’ll bring metal silverware they can wash and reuse for the next event. Some small company events ask workers to bring their cutlery to reduce the waste from the dinner.
Reusable silverware like metal might not be an option for large groups. A sustainable choice would be biodegradable tableware. This cutlery comes from natural fibers and is compostable, unlike typical plastic. Companies make biodegradable forks and knives from unconventional sources like cornstarch and potato starch.
Another concern for vendors is how they handle water and other beverages. Sustainability matters in the water that catering services provide. An environmentally conscious vendor will provide reusable cups that the workers can collect after the event and reuse for future clients. Companies should also review how the vendor uses water in cooking. For best practice, the vendor should use low-flow faucets and water-saving strategies while in the kitchen.
Renewable Energy Users
Another aspect companies should review with their vendors is their energy usage. Depending on the area, event planners should consider how considerate the caterer is with their power consumption. For example, do they use electric vehicles (EVs) when transporting food and the extra components? Fully electric cars are easier to maintain than gasoline-powered cars and have no tailpipe emissions.
Electric trucks are not widespread yet, but they’re likely coming in the future. In the meantime, vendors using trucks and other large vehicles should be using biodiesel. This fuel option is the most viable option for diesel vehicles because it reduces fuel consumption and has 74% fewer CO2 emissions than conventional petroleum diesel.
Selecting Sustainable Suppliers for a Company Celebration
Sustainability has become a significant part of life at home, work and everywhere else. The planet is facing a climate crisis, so everyone must find ways to reduce their carbon footprint daily. Even at a company party, planners should keep sustainability in mind.
When coordinating an event, professional planners have many vendors to choose from. They should give priority to the vendors who promote and execute sustainability regularly. Choosing environmentally conscious vendors reflects a company’s mission to do its part for the planet and will make it more appealing in the eyes of the employees, suppliers and consumers.