Innovate Blog
First Sustainable Future Customer Forums in 2019 debates proposed legislation on single-use packaging and explores how catering operators might best embrace changes

Friday February 15, 2019

Bunzl Catering Supplies hosted its first Sustainable Future Customer Forum in 2019, on 4 February at The Lockhart Innovation Centre in London. Hosted specifically for national customers and led by Joanna Gilroy, Head of Sustainability for Bunzl Catering & Hospitality Division, the forum explored the raft of new legislation and reform around single-use packaging and how operators in the catering and hospitality industry might best embrace resulting changes.

Most recent legislative changes and reforms include the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) reform update, the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), HMRC plastic tax, the Waste & Resources Strategy and the EU single-use plastics directive.

Joanna Gilroy comments: “How we deal with single-use packaging is going to have to change fast in response to new reform and legislation.  We’re happy to be at the forefront of positive change on this issue, and we’re dedicated to bringing what we know to our customers and to share ideas on how, as an industry, we might embrace change and create a more sustainable future. Our customer forums provide an invaluable platform for education and discussion in the face of fast-paced changes in legislation.”

Over 20 of our national customers attended the national forum, over a morning and an afternoon session, including casual dining restaurant chain Nando’s, coffee chain Puccino’s and Delaware North Company. Two consecutive customer forums were hosted for regional customers on 5 February, at the Lockhart Innovation Centre in London and on 7 February, at The University of Leeds in Leeds. Over 80 regional customers attended the event, over four sessions, including AE Catering, The Clink Charity and Manchester City Council.

Throughout 2017 and 2018, Bunzl Catering Supplies has worked closely with its customers to better understand their plastic packaging footprint and to help them reduce their environmental impact. The business has been instrumental in helping its customers to achieve this by recommending alternative material types and consolidating their food packaging ranges to either fully recyclable or fully compostable materials.

Discussion at the latest forums was understandably focused on the newest legislation and reform changes and what impact they will have on individual businesses and the industry at large. In response to such rapid reforms Bunzl Catering Supplies has been spearheading change for a more material responsible future as part of its ongoing Sustainable Future programme and in line with its recently adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

In November 2018, Bunzl Catering Supplies welcomed Katie Bradbury, Sustainability and Packaging Innovation Manager, to the business, who will look to introduce a wider range of sustainable products into the foodservice industry and develop more closed-loop systems for a wider variety of food packaging materials.

Bunzl Catering Supplies learnt early on that waste from single-use plastic is a shared problem, so collaboration is required to find effective solutions.  Its Sustainable Future Customer Forum provides a fantastic forum for collaboration – looking at how the industry might better reduce, reuse and recycle.  Customer feedback for these events has been so overwhelmingly positive the business will be hosting these events regularly to meet customer demand.

If you are one of our regional or national customers and are interested in joining us at our next Sustainable Future Customer Forum – please contact us today. For more information on the wider Sustainable Future programme, click here to view the 2018 Sustainable Future e-brochure.