Food has always been a key element of the offering at RCP London Events, and we are renowned for our first-class food, wine and service. With sustainability being at the core of our every day operations across all areas of the business, we facilitate some fantastic sustainable food programmes to benefit our visitors, while also protecting the planet.
We understand that event planners need to be seen to be operating sustainably and produce needs to be responsibly sourced.
In this article, we explore the main sustainable food initiatives that we have adopted to make our catering offer environment friendly. From increasing plant-based and vegetable-led dishes to sourcing only local and seasonal produce, our venue is taking the necessary steps to contribute to the RCP’s commitment to sustainability.
1. Increasing vegetable-led dishes on menus to combat environmental damage
According to the Vegetarian Society, a vegetarian diet produces 2.5 X fewer carbon emissions compared with a meat diet. In fact, the food production process for meat from farm to plate is said to comprise 30% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
In response, we have introduced a range of plant-based, vegetarian and vegan menus and reduced meat dishes by 20%. Currently, over a quarter of our menu options are fully plant-based, offering a wide variety of mouth-watering dishes that don’t harm the planet.
An example of one of our plant-based menus is the Physicians for Africa interactive food stall, which supports the training and funding of doctors in Africa. Thanks to the collaboration with our trusted catering partner CH&CO, we have created a delicious menu that contains common foods regularly eaten in the East, Central and Southern Africa regions.
2. Purchasing high-welfare meat and dairy products
When selecting suppliers and produce, we always ensure that we purchase high-welfare meat and dairy products. Higher welfare farming is done on a much smaller scale than intensive farming, is more organic and poses fewer risks to animals, people and the planet.
Milk production per cow has roughly doubled in the past 45 years, leading to a range of welfare problems, according to the charity Compassion in World Farming. Organic farmers are increasingly keeping breeds of cows which produce moderate amounts of milk and are less likely to suffer health problems. Research studies show that organic cows suffer less from lameness than cows kept permanently indoors.
3. Serving sustainably-caught fish to ensure the future of fish stocks and marine environments
We incorporate the Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard certification into our sourcing policies to secure a profitable, sustainable and socially responsible future for the seafood industry and contribute to its long-term viability.
We also pledge to the Marine Conservation Society which protects our seas, shores and wildlife by improving biodiversity, creating healthier fish stocks and reducing pollution on beaches and in the sea.
Our menus include sustainably-caught fish which includes no 5-rated fish, 95% 1-3 rated fish and only pole and line caught tuna fish.
4. Sourcing fairly traded produce to ensure farmers in the developing world have access to a trading system based on justice and fairness
We champion Fairtrade and ethical farming and work with like-minded suppliers. In 2018 alone, our catering partner CH&CO raised over £5,000 to fund charitable initiatives related to Fairtrade and ethical farming.
Our suppliers sign up to the independent third-party standard the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), a leading alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers’ rights around the world. This is why in 2020, our main efforts were targeted towards promoting gender equality in farming communities, as well as encouraging and facilitating education and literacy.
5. Using local and seasonal produce
Our menus change quarterly with the seasons and we use local and seasonal produce to support British business, reducing haulage costs and the environmental impact of transport.
We support British farming and 50% of our main ingredients are sourced in the UK. We build relationships to support local, niche suppliers and partnerships with local farm-based charities help minimise food miles and give something back to the community.
With lockdown restrictions easing and events starting to resume, we’ve worked hard to come up with a range of mouth-watering event menus that are both sustainable and delicious. Our caterer CH&CO is deeply committed to operating in a socially responsible and sustainable way and was recently awarded three stars by the Sustainable Restaurant Association for its commitment to sustainability.
We are constantly striving to minimise our impact on the environment and coming up with innovative ways to do so. We are the first and only royal college to achieve The Carbon Trust Standard and also hold ISO 14001 certification for environmental best practice.
We also partner with bio-bean, the world's largest recycler of spent coffee grounds, to transform our 3,500 kg of waste coffee grounds a year into sustainable bio-products. The venue’s coffee grounds, which formerly went into the RCP’s food waste and were processed by anaerobic digestion (AD) into compost, are now be diverted and recycled into eco-friendly fire logs, saving 70 % of the CO2e emissions versus the grounds being sent to AD. Recycling waste coffee grounds into coffee logs not only saves on emissions but also harnesses the untapped energy contained in the grounds to give them a second life as a useful product. Spent coffee grounds have a naturally high oil content, and therefore a high calorific value, making them an ideal energy source.
We want to show others that sustainable need not be boring or bland and, as an industry, we all have a duty to do what we can to look after our planet. Get in touch with our team to find out more about our sustainable catering offer.