Our Approach to Sustainability and Minimising our Environmental Impact.
Every day, we see that great food, great service and great experiences have the power to transform everyone’s day. Up and down the country, our amazing people create outstanding restaurant experiences and feed many hundreds of pupils.
We can enhance their well-being and deliver services to make everyone’s day that little bit brighter. We are committed to doing all of this responsibly by nurturing our environment, delivering the highest levels of safety, taking an active role in creating healthier food for healthier lives, ensuring we manage essential resources carefully, sourcing sustainably and ruthlessly reducing waste.
We’ve created our own Sustainability Working Group (SWG), which has brought together key people from across our business who care passionately about all things sustainability outlined below:
We recognise that our activities can affect the environment, so we make sure that everything we do minimises our impact:
- Having real values in the food we buy, produce and serve.
- Sourcing: the provenance and story of where food is grown and produced.
- Considering the environment in all that we do.
- Developing a sustainability culture and initiatives further into our business in order to ensure the business is sustainable going forwards.
- Making the workplace healthier for our clients.
- Improving staff welfare for our teams.
We are committed to maintaining an ethical and sustainable supply chain, developing partnership relationships with all our supply partners, and being at the forefront of all new ethical developments and requirements in the industry. We want all our customers to be assured that the dishes we produce and serve every day comprise of high-quality ingredients which have been sourced and produced in line with best ethical practices.
Our supply chain is not only local and regional but fully traceable, so we can guarantee the provenance of all produce. Our quality assurance and due diligence checks look at areas such as HACCP, employment law, animal welfare and environmental impact.
Our procurement activities and suppliers are independently audited by NSF International, a global independent organisation that provides certification, auditing and risk management services to the food supply network. NSF looks at all aspects of cultivation, processing, storage, and delivery, to ensure that our food is safe and that people, animals and the wider environment are protected in all processes.
We choose our suppliers carefully, to ensure they provide us with fresh, sustainable, high-quality produce. Wherever possible, we aim to source our fruit, vegetables, fresh meat, milk dairy and bakery products locally. This is subject to our supplier due diligence and quality assurance checks.
We require our suppliers to handle animals in compliance with accepted husbandry practices, and our supply chain only deals with producers who are also adhering to these standards. This includes but is not limited to the current EU and source country legislation. Working closely with the Marine Conservation Society, we have removed all seafood products rated as 5 by their rating mechanism and are working towards removing all rated 4. These species and their associated fishing methods are the least sustainable, and we actively seek more sustainable sources for all our seafood.
Our Palm Oil Pledge
Palm oil production is traditionally associated with deforestation and the consequent impact on biodiversity, climate change and other negative environmental impacts.
However, sustainable palm oil is produced in a manner which minimises environmental impact and meets strict criteria throughout the production process. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is the major international stakeholder body which defines these criteria. There are a number of supply chain options to demonstrate the use of 100% sustainable palm oil. We will only use sustainably sourced palm oil or palm derivatives in our food.
Chemicals and Disposables
Palmer & Howells use environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals and biodegradable disposables as standard across all our sites. We reduce food miles and carbon output by selecting local suppliers wherever possible and we participate in recycling schemes, setting these up at new sites where they do not presently exist.
We are working in partnership with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and, as part of our plan, we aim to reduce our use of plastic across the business by 20%. We have made a great start by switching our sandwich packaging from traditional plastic to the Bunzl Sustain packaging range, which is fully compostable. We are working towards completely eradicating single-use virgin plastic items from our stock, and initiatives to encourage both our staff and customers to adopt reusable drinks containers are proving popular.
Waste Oil Recycling
Our Used Cooking Oil (UCO) is collected from our kitchens across the UK and recycled to produce biodiesel by our partner Olleco.
Food Waste in Our Schools
We have the joint responsibility to educate the pupils on food waste; this means ensuring that our portions are age-appropriate and encourage children to take what they need as they can always have seconds.
We segregate all food waste both in the restaurant and in the kitchen, and it is weighed and recorded every day. At the end of each week, the amount of food waste in kilos is dropped into our wastage tracker; this will then tell us the total megawatt hours of renewable energy produced from the food waste and will also calculate the total tonnes of carbon dioxide displaced. How much we waste is tracked, and although this waste is converted to biofuel and compost, we want to educate the pupils on how we can all minimise what we throw away.
We design waste journey boards to display what happens to the food waste from each school. This will not only communicate our food wastage levels but also highlight our other green initiatives that our catering teams and pupils can work on together, in order for us to create the biggest and most consistent impact across our business.
Green Kitchen Accreditation
Palmer & Howells is keen to work with our schools in gaining the Green Kitchen accreditation. The aim of the Green Kitchen accreditation is to reduce consumption and costs within the kitchen through energy, waste and water saving initiatives.
Why we achieve it
Enhance reputation – be a pioneer of the catering world to work with two of the sustainability industry’s biggest authorities.
Be efficient – identify opportunities to improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs
Compliance – demonstrate you meet the energy, water and waste requirements of the Defra Plan for public procurement and its balanced scorecard.
CO2 Emission Reduction
Car fleet – We have re-modelled our car fleet programme to ensure that we are using vehicles that perform efficiently in relation to CO2 emissions.
Deliveries – We are actively working hard to reduce the number of deliveries per site per week, to bring greater efficiency without compromising quality or service.
We believe food should be a delicious adventure and that pupils learn more when they are experiencing something versus simply taking in information. There is nothing better than practical and sensorial food education. Our education programs are designed to provide engaging and meaningful food discoveries. We bring interactive learning experiences to our schools as part of our added value and commitment to learning about all things food.
All of our menus are bespoke and unique to the needs of each school that we work with. If you would like to see sample menus, then please get in touch and we will be happy to share with you a selection that is appropriate to your school and what you are looking for.