Green New Deal News

Local caterer calls on the food services industry to stop making excuses for waste

(This story is sponsored by .)

Local caterer has felt the urgency to take care of the planet since the company’s inception 20 years ago.

“We need to admit we play a big part in society’s impact on the environment,” says Nicole Burke, director of catering at Emelle’s Catering in Vancouver. “This is a high-waste industry. Whether it’s food waste, packaging, water or emissions—it’s time we do more to reduce our mark on our planet.”

Why is environmental impact an important issue for the Canadian food services industry?

According to the , Canadians waste approximately 873 pounds of food per person a year, making Canada one of the biggest wasters on the planet. Additionally, greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the life cycle of wasted food totals about 193 million tonnes—that’s the equivalent of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by 41 million cars driven continuously for a year.

Emelle’s Catering recycles everything possible through its green program. Food waste, metals, glass, and plastics are picked up every week and members of the dishwashing team take all cans and bottles to the depot.

“We didn't mean for our sustainable practices to be a reason that people chose us. It just always seemed like the right thing to do,” says Mary Lee Newnham, founder & CEO of Emelle’s. “Now, more than ever, it’s important for the food services industryand all local businesses, for that matter—in our city to take action and do our part.”

has worked with Emelle’s for 20 years, helping to establish a robust green program that includes recycling, composting, and waste reduction in the kitchen as well as when providing on-site catering. Both companies work together for Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach, where the green program diverts about 70 to 75 percent of waste (that’s roughly 20,500 pounds of material) from the landfill every season.

Emelle’s recommends that consumers make a conscious decision to hire a caterer who practises sustainability in its operations. Other Vancouver caterers like , , , and have all committed to sustainable initiatives.

"We aren't perfect,” says Newnham, “but in the words of Anne-Marie Bonneau (the Zero Waste Chef), ‘we don't need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.’”

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