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How to Reduce Food Waste at Events

Reduce over production and involve your attendees

Communicate to your attendees that you are working to minimise food waste and the practices that you will put in place, so they can help and be part of the solution. Clear communication between the event organiser, caterer and attendees is hugely effective in forecasting more accurately food consumption and ordering a measured quantity of food.

Think about:

  • Including questions on pre-orders and preferences in event communication and registration, explaining it will help reduce food waste at the event
  • Putting a sign at your buffet station stating “We are working to reduce food waste at this buffet station which is why we have small plates. However, we encourage you to come back as often as you require”
  • Asking attendees whether they plan to be there for all food and refreshment breaks. Equally you could ask if they prefer to have dessert or not as there are often portions left over
  • Removing decorative garnishes that look nice but normally end up in the bin

Rethink inventory and purchasing practices

Working with suppliers who share a common goal of reducing food waste can help you to achieve your food waste targets.

Think about:

  • Requesting that suppliers deliver portions that suit your offering, rather than you trying to adapt to their portion sizes
  • Working with local suppliers may reduce the lead time required when ordering ahead, therefore when guest numbers inevitably change in the days leading up to the event, the order size can be amended
  • Designing menus to use every part of your ingredients. Examples of easy ideas include skin on chips rather than peeled or using peelings and meat cuttings from lunch to make stock for the evening soup course
  • Selecting non perishable foods for breaks. For example individually packaged crisps or oat bars instead of freshly baked good. If these are not used on the day, they can be used on subsequent days or donated, whereas freshly baked goods will have a shorter shelf life

Engage staff

Educate catering staff and event staff so that they understand the reason for decisions regarding food, portions etc. Research shows that informed staff are more likely to actively partake in activities to reduce food waste, and be better prepared to explain catering decisions to the customers which will help overall understanding.

Think about:

  • Including food waste reduction goals in the pre event briefing and run through on the day of the event


Separate all food waste from other disposable items so that you can track the quantity. For an event that takes place over multiple days this will help predict food required on subsequent days.

Think about:

  • Using separate bins for different types of waste Eg plate waste, kitchen preparation waste, buffet waste etc can help identify which area is creating the most waste so that interventions can be planned

Re-purpose excess food

Cutting out 100% food waste is close to impossible unfortunately, so where possible re-purpose excess food.

Think about:

  • Can left over fruit from lunch one day be used for breakfast smoothies the next morning?
  • Can untouched food be donated to local charities and initiatives?
  • Can food waste be used to feed livestock and animals?