Wrestling with waste, one footprint at a time

Comment by DAVID NUTTALL, Sustainability representative for TUCO and Catering Manager at Harper Adams University

“The foodservice industry, including the education sector, throws away almost 920,000 tonnes of food away every year, 75 per cent of which is avoidable . “This figure is astounding and one which the

industry is looking to tackle. At TUCO, we are constantly reviewing and hunting for new, innovative ways to minimise the environmental impact that catering sites in the education sector can have. With food waste costing £250m a year

in the education sector, we can look at this

from both a budget and environmental perspective. “Any operation striving to improve its

sustainability starts by identifying where the waste is generated and then considers how to reduce that waste to minimal level. TUCO research on food waste found that few catering managers actually know the volume of waste they create or how it is created, and even fewer

know what’s in it and what happens to it once it leaves the site . No matter how good the intentions, it’s almost impossible to make real difference unless the amount of waste that is being produced is understood, alongside the areas where key wastage is occurring. “A practical way to tackle the problem is to

analyse specific areas of food waste and considering changes that could reduce waste in that area. Whether it’s reassessing portion size to reduce leftovers, changing the type of waste bins available or understanding how food waste is dealt with on a student and staff level, by breaking the problem down into more specific aspects, it becomes easier to manage and make changes. “The key finding from our food waste

research was the urgency to challenge and change the attitudes of staff and students in the ‘throw away’ waste culture. Whilst there are of

course some environmentally-conscious students who actively think about the food that they waste, 88 per cent of education catering sites say that student and pupil engagement remains a major challenge . This is particularly visible when it comes to pre-paid meals, which appears to enhance the attitude that ‘more food equals better value. In this instance, why not consider getting school pupils and university students involved in projects, such as looking at food waste reduction to give responsibility and ownership to make a difference? “All in all, it all comes down to

communication and engagement with consumers whether they be pupils, students, staff or visitors. People want to do the right thing, but this can often get confused with other priorities when their stomachs start rumbling, or they need to rush off to lectures.”

We won’t be taking our eye off the ball… Comment by EMMANUEL BOTWE, headteacher of Tytherington School, Cheshire

There’s no denying that the education landscape is subject to increasing scrutiny and that leadership is the word on the lips of sector commentators. The recent study by Harvard Business Review ( one-type-of-leader-who-can-turn-around-a-failing-school) exposed a reward criteria for headteachers which seemed to favour short-termism over carefully crafted, long-term strategies. I joined Tytherington School as headteacher in September 2015, keen to

build on its strong foundation and reputation as a school rooted in the heart of the local community. We are thrilled to feature in the top 10% nationally for sixth forms for A Level results and we’ve also seen a 16 per cent hike in the GCSE headline performance. This is great, but sustaining high performance is an on-going commitment – we won’t be taking our eye off the ball. The pun is an apt one as we’ve recently partnered with former head of

education and performance at Manchester City Football Club, Pete Lowe, who is now director of First Team Ltd, drawing on parallels in the Premiership with education environments to support the development of winning mindsets. We’ve set the bar high here but staying hungry is key when it comes to

maintaining success, and as Pete regularly tells us, it’s about creating leaders at every level within the organisation to inspire, challenge and drive the strategy. We respect that view because it comes from someone with a proven track record for creating first team and international players, and the principle is relevant, regardless of the context. The pressure of Ofsted is unrelenting, but it can’t just be about creating

shortcuts to academic success. One thing for sure is that there are no quick fixes when it comes to performance, as the strategy has to be supported by a really solid leadership culture. It’s important to always see the bigger picture and to recognise that the environment is continuously evolving. Pete’s analogy is helpful when he says that he was in the business of creating

18 December 2016

players and not simply winning games. Rather than talking about ‘excellence’, which can be a little intangible, we prefer to focus on continuous improvement, so it’s about creating marginal gains that everyone here can contribute to because success isn’t ring-fenced to individuals, it’s a team approach. A key part of my role as a leader is to make sure everyone understands

how they contribute to the whole so they feel part of something that is bigger than one individual. Creating that culture is hard work and is achieved over time through millions of interactions with people around school. I firmly believe that, when sustained, this yields great academic results, but more importantly it enables young people to leave our school as A* people.

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