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Catering for a Sustainable Future

19 February 2010

SPONSORED ARTICLE: Catering operations can positively impact a sustainable workplace, as Simon Esner explains.

WHERE THEY CHOOSE TO PROVIDE IT the quality of food at work available to employees whilst at work is an important issue for any employer. Access to nutritious, high quality, value for money refreshment during the course of the working day is known to affect motivation, satisfaction and productivity during the working day.
For the facilities manager, managing the catering brief doesn’t simply rest there. Quality of service sits amongst a wider portfolio of goals which include the environment in which the food is served, the service’s impact on a site’s total operation as well as its ability to support an organisation’s wider sustainability goals, all of which fall into the FM mantle.
As the UK’s leading independent contract caterer, BaxterStorey is all too familiar with how food at work should deliver the quality standards expected by those dining on the premises, whist at the same time, respond to the FM’s wider brief.
Sustainability rests at the heart of our approach. For us, we achieve this by delivering the most fantastic food served by the highest skilled teams in the sector using the freshest, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. We do this not because it’s fashionable, but because we know this is the best way to produce great food.
BaxterStorey has been operating for 10 years and provides services to over 500 UK organisations including Barclays, Virgin Atlantic, Unilever, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Since the earliest days of the company’s existence, it has pursued a policy of working closely with facilities management colleagues to ensure catering services operate in a fashion that minimises resource use, maximises budget and ensures that hospitality services enhance a building’s total performance.
Environmental view
Provenance and quality of ingredients is of paramount importance to us but we also recognise that our approach must stretch beyond the food we serve. By its nature catering consumes huge amounts of energy and resource whilst producing massive volumes of waste including food stuffs, cooking oil, packaging, effluent, administrative waste and surplus equipment. These impacts are not ignored by BaxterStorey and we have taken a robust approach to minimise negative environmental impact and along the way, have acquired ISO 14001 accreditation. From our own operation to helping to manage the impact of our clients’ sites, we maintain a keen eye our environmental practice.
Avoiding unnecessary landfill is high on our list of priorities; the UK catering sector’s only nationwide scheme is in place to recycle food into energy, coffee grinds are diverted into
compost and the company has developed a long list of partnerships that enable equipment to be recycled or rehoused rather than dumped.
CO2 impact is controlled by using energy saving devices in its kitchens and offices as well as by recycling cooking oil into bio-fuel and we have produced a suite of cleaning products using chemicals that are 100 percent natural and biodegradable with no negative impact on the environment.
BaxterStorey’s entire environmental performance is regarded as industry leading. The company’s achievements have been rewarded with numerous accolades, not least a prestigious Business Commitment to the Environment award. Our sustainable focus is also warmly welcomed by clients such as David Hughes, Sustainability & HPP Programme Manager, Information & Workplace Services responsible for the Department For Business Innovation And Skills (BIS) site, who explains that BIS have benefited from this approach. “BaxterStorey’s positive approach to environmental management and sustainable development has without a doubt contributed robustly to the development of the Department’s achievements in sustainable development. Proactive management of energy, waste minimisation, transport, materials and procurement through the supply chain have resulted in lessening their environmental impact.
These initiatives have been welcomed not only at BIS but across Whitehall. When BaxterStorey received accreditation to ISO 14001 it was a significant achievement and a testament to their continued commitment and passion for environmental improvement”.
Quality begins at home
Whist operating in this fashion brings with it challenges, employing a sustainable focus on its food chain nets positive environmental results. BaxterStorey’s commitment to using fresh, locally sourced products places the operation in the strongest position to help sustain the local supply chain, reduce energy usage and minimise transportation costs and supports our business’ wider sustainability initiatives.
Avoiding long distance haulage by sourcing local ingredients within the UK is a key sustainability target for BaxterStorey and our ability to ‘buy British’ grows stronger by the day. Whilst some products such as oranges and bananas will always have to be sourced outside of the UK, BaxterStorey is committed to ensuring that the UK is the first port of call for those that can be located on our shores. We are the only caterer in the UK to have committed to sourcing 100% of all fresh meat within the UK, an equivalent of over one million kilos of meat every year, as well as sourcing over 80 percent of other fresh products such as fruit and vegetables from within UK. The list gets longer; every egg cracked is UK produced, each of the 3.2 million litres of milk the business uses annually comes from UK dairies and all bakery products are produced by British artisan bakers.
Advocates of the quality benefits of having a strong UK farming and food supplier resource to call on, the company is also conscious that our relationships with these communities enable it to reassure its clients and customers in matters surrounding the provenance of the food it supplies. The groundswell of interest in provenance and local sourcing has as much to do with increased consumer knowledge regarding food quality, as it does with animal welfare and it remains essential to be able to identify what comes from where. With open relationships and stringent processes in place throughout the supply chain, BaxterStorey is confident it can pinpoint the farm and farmer of every pack of beef, pork, chicken or eggs which enters its operation.
Sustainability is a vein that runs through the entire business but it could not be achieved without the support of a knowledgeable workforce. Food which arrives fresh, that is seasonal and requires preparation needs to be handled by chefs who are skilled, confident and creative with produce and by service teams who are enthusiastic, motivated and understanding of their customer. This is a tall challenge which the company, its chef brigades and service teams relish. Offering teams industry leading career opportunities and training, the company attracts and retains the sector’s most talented individuals.
From its commitment to regional sourcing to investing in its teams, ensuring equity in supplier relationships through to its BaxterStorey Foundation, a charitable arm which has distributed £100,000 of profit from coffee sales to a variety of good causes, in the last 12 months, it is evident that BaxterStorey pays more than lip service to its role as a corporate citizen. Working alongside those responsible for the delivery of facilities management services, offering of a best in class catering service within which sustainable performance is embedded, BaxterStorey assists its clients in contributing towards a better environment and healthier, prosperous more productive communities and workplaces.
● Simon Esner is UK Sales Director at BaxterStorey.

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