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Eighth Plate food waste scheme rises from the flames of Arcadia London


Eighth Plate Arcadia 2018
The Arcadia Spider, a 50 tonne arena built from repurposed military hardware


Festival food waste scheme Eighth Plate returned after a two-year hiatus on the bank holiday weekend at the Arcadia London Spectacular.

From Friday 4th to Sunday 6th May, staff from the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) visited the food traders on site at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to discuss surplus food at the end of the festival and how it could be safely redirected.


Thanks to the excellent work of the traders on site and the organisers of Arcadia London, the process was managed and completed successfully. Eighth Plates’ relaunch at Arcadia London will be used to develop a case study to advise future project managers on how the scheme can be implemented at other events in order to salvage and donate as much surplus food to as many charities as possible.

What is Eighth Plate?

Every day, one in 8 people in the world go hungry. Eighth Plate works to feed that eighth person, and in 2018, the organisation aims to work with UK events to prevent surplus food from going to waste, instead diverting it to those in need and reducing the carbon footprint of the event.

Eighth Plate was originally launched in 2015 as a project designed and managed by A Greener Festival, FareShare South West and the Nationwide Caterers Association, after a panel discussion about food waste at the annual Green Events & Innovations Conference. At just seven festivals, 23 tonnes of surplus to requirements food was re-directed from traders and campsite collections to local FareShare sites - equivalent to 55,000 meals.

The project was funded by WRAP and the Esme Fairbairn Foundation, with the aim of collecting surplus food from events, flash-freezing it and making ready meals which could be distributed to those in need. Despite being considered a success, without further funding the operation was deemed unfeasible.

The project has been relaunched after requests from NCASS traders who had been involved with the scheme in 2015. The project has been relaunched with improved coordination and processes between traders and event/trader managers.

How did it go?

We worked closely with the sustainability manager and trader manager at Arcadia London from the beginning and were aware that the traders on site were experienced and well versed in food safety. This meant they were likely to be able to deliver the project, but that there would be less food waste than might usually accumulate at events with less experienced traders.

Communication from the organisers to traders about expected attendance helped them to stock effectively, meaning the available surplus was kept to a minimum.

As food business owners and their staff were already trained in safe food handling and had brought the facilities to store and transport food produce with them, the collection process was arranged and implemented skilfully and efficiently.

Only four of the ten hot food traders had any surplus we could use. Predominantly bread rolls, wraps and crumpets along with some salad vegetables and milk. In total we salvaged over 50 kilos of baked goods and around 20 kilos of salad and vegetables. Catering Equipment Ltd donated cool boxes, ETI donated temperature guns and Telemetry donated temperature sensors to help manage the safety of the produce, without which, the food would not be accepted as safe to eat by FareShare.

Eighth Plate Donations
Some of the surplus food salvaged by Eighth Plate at the end of the festival.

"Having 8th Plate involved in the Arcadia event was really great - the operation ran smoothly and successfully, plus we were able to reduce our waste and support a wonderful organisation doing good works right here in London" Michelle Tilley, Events Manager at Slammin Events

"Working with 8th Plate was very easy and professional - Mark and his team have organised everything themselves including contacting all of the traders to inform them about the scheme & running the operations on site. With some logistical input from our side we managed to run the operation smoothly & salvage quite a bit of food. I would encourage all event organisers to try introducing this at their festivals as an easy way of reducing waste and supporting local people who need it most. I certainly am looking forward to engaging 8th Plate to all of our events moving forward." Zofia Plonczak, Operations Manager at LWE

How does this affect the industry?

An estimated 400 tonnes of food goes to waste at UK festivals each year*. Meanwhile, recent reports suggest 500,000 children in the UK go to school hungry as 8 million people in the UK are believed to live in food poverty**. For every tonne of food waste that accumulates, 4 tonnes of CO2 is emitted***, damaging the environment and costing our health and our natural surroundings.

Eighth Plate addresses these issues by feeding vulnerable people, reducing the need for landfill and cutting carbon footprints of catering and events, promoting conscientious business practices and saving traders and event organisers the money they’d otherwise spend on waste disposal.

We know that hospitality and food service companies (responsible for 9% of food waste) are better at managing food waste than households who, according to WRAP****, make up for 71% of food waste in the UK. Of the 10m tonnes of food waste ‘post farm gate’, WRAP believe 6 million tonnes is avoidable.

“Our members’ livelihoods depend on being able to effectively manage stock, but this scheme enables even the surplus they have to be re-purposed and will hopefully help to raise awareness of the spectre of food waste and its environmental impact to the wider public. Together we proved that with the right support, events and traders could co-ordinate effectively and manage any surplus in future, reducing the carbon footprints of events and feeding those in need.” Mark Laurie, NCASS Director

"The social and environmental benefits of preventing food waste and sharing meals with those in need resonates perfectly with Arcadia Spectacular's own ethos of resourcefulness and community. Arcadia London was the perfect place to bring the 8th Plate surplus food project back to the event circuit. We're looking forward to the many collaborations ahead to keep on reducing event food waste and filling bellies at the same time!" Claire O'Neill, A Greener Festival

Overall, the project aims to provide insight into how food waste can be prevented entirely from future festivals and events in the UK while increasing awareness among the public of the costs of unnecessary waste and the scale of the food poverty issue, encouraging them to change their habits.

Eighth Plate is available for consultation on tailor-made services for events, regarding any area of the management of the process, the collection of the food and its redistribution to charities. Email hello@eighthplate.org.uk or visit eighthplate.org.uk



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