Foodservice industry is greener according to respondents of the Gram Green Paper

After a two-year wait, The Stage, quite literally was set at Hotelympia on Tuesday 29th May for the launch of the fourth Green Paper, commissioned by energy efficient refrigeration supplier, Gram.

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The results from this unique analysis and quantitative research into sustainability, within the UK foodservice industry, shows that more operators and chefs now believe themselves to be green than since the first report was launched back in 2008. Budget however, is still the biggest factor cited by respondents, whilst knowledge is also recognised as a major obstacle to being greener.


The Green Paper, which has been published biennially since it first launched in 2008, aims to share best practices across eight channels within the marketplace, including healthcare, schools, pubs and the workplace.


Quantitative surveys were conducted between November 2013 and February 2014 and analysed by independent research consultancy Cambridge Direction. Partner associations that contributed and supported this research include; CESA (Catering Equipment Suppliers Association), HCA (Hospital Caterers Association), ACE (Association of Catering Excellence), CHA (Considerate Hoteliers Association), IoH (Institute of Hospitality), TUCO (The University Caterers Association), LACA (Local Authority Caterers Association), NACC (National Association of Care Catering), Master Innkeepers, SRA (Sustainable Restaurant Association) and FCSI (Foodservice Consultants Society International).


The report shows that 83% of catering businesses now consider themselves green, compared to 76% two years ago in the 2012 Green Paper. Large increases came from Schools (67% to 87%) and Restaurants (59% to 81%). These positive perceptions indicate that perhaps we are truly seeing a movement towards a more sustainable future.


However, it seems the industry is still feeling the effects of a double-dip recession, with 55% of respondents to The Green Paper questionnaire saying that lack of budget was a barrier to having a greener workplace, and only 5% of respondents ‘very willing’ to pay a small increase in costs in order to be greener.


Dominic Burbridge, Associate Director at The Carbon Trust however believes that we should stop thinking of green being more expensive: “Being green means being more efficient. Over the ten-year lifespan of your kitchen equipment, more than 80% of your money is spent on energy consumed and less than 20% on the equipment itself. Energy prices continue to go up year after year so investing a bit more upfront in energy efficient equipment is a no-brainer for any business no matter your size.”


In addition to budget, another key concern is the fact that 43% said that lack of information or advice was a barrier. Twenty seven per cent said that they don’t know what can still be done to improve energy efficiency in their place of work, despite a huge 78% of all respondents saying they would like to be greener. Worryingly, the majority were not aware of government tax breaks that could help alleviate concerns over capital investment.


On a more positive note, fewer respondents (17%) in 2014 found being green at work difficult, compared to 35% in 2012, with Schools (71%), Workplaces (65%) and Restaurants (61%) the most likely to say they found being green easy. Unsurprisingly, waste reduction and recycling were the most common environmental actions in the workplace with 34% highlight this initiative, and comments from respondents suggested that green actions are becoming habit-forming.


Glenn Roberts, Managing Director of Gram UK, said: “This year’s Green Paper has again highlighted some real positives in the industry’s quest to be more sustainable. Foodservice is a key contributor to the UK’s energy usage, Co2 emissions and food, packaging and water waste, which is why Gram continue to support this unique report and take great pride along with the industry when we see progress being made. We’ll continue to work with our partners, who help us to achieve such a comprehensive insight into the varying attitudes and behaviours towards sustainability across the diverse channels of the market.”


The key question debated on The Stage at Hotelympia on Tuesday 29th May is how the industry will continue to push forward with green actions that go beyond the easy fixes to continue to make a difference. Panellists who contributed to the discussion included: Keith Warren, CESA chair; Julie Barker, TUCO chair; Andrew Etherington, FCSI vice-chair; Andy Jones, HCA national chair; Chef John Campbell; and Dominic Burbridge, associate director at The Carbon Trust.


Simon Rogan, restaurateur and Michelin-starred chef, contributed to the findings: “Time shouldn’t be an issue when becoming greener. We work in a very precise and professional environment, and you make time to do whatever is needed, to do things correctly.”


For more information on the findings of The Green Paper 2014, to compare to historical conclusions, and view videos and testimonials from key industry opinion formers go to