New York City Council is cleaning up its street food sales, with a pilot programme to encourage the use of more environmentally friendly food carts. Street food forms an essential part of the city’s identity, but the carts from which the food is sold are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions as well as contributing to local air pollution.
In order to improve the ecological footprint of street food without negatively impacting the sellers, the City Council has invested in 500 eco-innovative MRV100 food carts. These will be provided free of charge to the city’s street food sellers on a first-come, first-served basis. The MRV100 includes solar panels, rechargeable battery banks, a "federally certified heavy-duty fuel tank and low emission CNG" fuel system, a hybrid generator system, and a state-of-the-art mobile kitchen setup. It is predicted to cut GHG emissions by 60% and to slash NOx pollution by 95% compared to standard alternatives.
It is hoped that this pilot will lead to a broader move towards environmentally friendly carts. "Small business owners like food cart vendors, are the backbone of New York City’s economy and the fabric of our neighborhoods. I look forward to seeing the results of this pilot and thank MOVE Systems for this important effort," said NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
National policy makers in France have released a series of proposals aimed at cutting the nation’s food waste in half over the next ten years. The new policies, which were released in April, have been developed as part of a nationwide Fight Against Food Waste (Lutte Contre Le Gaspillage Alimentaire), which aims to tackle both over production and over consumption within the French food system.
The necessity of changing attitudes to food has been identified as a vital tool to long-term waste reduction, so education and awareness-raising campaigns will form a key part of the anti-waste strategy. Furthermore, under these proposals large corporations would be required to include food waste data in the corporate social responsibility statements and supermarkets would be legally obliged to donate extra food to non-profit organisations rather than sending it to landfill.
In order to support these measures, a dedicated national agency has been proposed to work with stakeholders in developing innovative methods to manage and measure food waste. Other proposed measures include clearer expiry dates on grocery products, the decriminalisation of dumpster diving and controlling rejections of shipments from suppliers by retailers.
UNEP releases new guidance on sustainable catering in the hospitality sector
Improving sustainability in the catering sector can be achieved using a four step approach, according to a recent UNEP report. The publication, entitled Responsible Food Purchasing: Four steps towards sustainability for the hospitality sector, recognises the importance of the catering sector in social and environmental terms. It aims to help food purchasers better understand the importance of responsible food purchasing, while providing practical advice and guidance to enable them to make the right decisions and choices.
The guidance is specifically aimed at food and purchasing managers of hotels, restaurants and catering companies but could equally be applied to public sector catering services. The Guide focuses on the need for cooperation in order to achieve responsible food sourcing. This implies working closely with the supply chain, supporting suppliers, incentivising good practice and communicating why and how your organisation has committed to new standards of responsible environmental and social performance.
The four steps approach guides purchasers through the development of a sustainability strategy, key areas for sustainable purchasing, monitoring of contracts and effective communication of results. It also provides a useful resource inventory, with further information on the wider sustainability agenda.
Natural History Museum reviews sustainability of its catering contract
London’s Natural History Museum (UK) is planning to reduce waste through its catering service, with potential financial savings of up to £20,000 – almost 30 percent of the contract’s total value. The museum site supplies 235,500 hot meals each year as well as drinks and cold snacks. Following a review undertaken by the contract department, food waste was identified as a key area for improvement.
The museum ran trials to estimate the volume of food waste produced during normal periods and peak times. Food waste is usually produced at a rate of around 780kg per week, more than doubling during peak times to 1,820kg per week. To overcome this, the Museum will include a Resource Management Plan (RMP) in future contracts, with key performance indicators to help the contract manager check progress.
Behavioural change for both staff and visitors was seen as another key factor in reducing the amount of waste. Ellie Simes, Environmental and Sustainability Manager, said: “We find it difficult to get school parties to segregate waste in the picnic area, so we are thinking of how colleagues looking after school groups can encourage them to sort waste for recycling.”