TUCO hosts successful fourth annual winter conference

The event, held at Cardiff University, explored the theme of sustainable success

The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) hosted its fourth annual winter conference earlier this month.

December 4 saw a packed gathering at Cardiff University, all exploring the theme of sustainable success.

“This was an opportunity to meet people running companies which have set out to put planet before profit, yet have still delivered commercially,” said Matthew White, TUCO chair.

“The take-homes for our members are huge. We saw speaker after speaker deliver innovative ways to be both sustainable and successful.”

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Some of the many speakers at the event included Louise Whitaker from Bewley’s Tea and Coffee. She underlined the fact that, despite a throwaway culture becoming increasingly unfashionable, 40% of plastics still go to landfill.

To help counter that, she outlined some of the solutions being adopted by higher education institutions. These include an outright ban of disposable cups by Harper Adams University – instead charging £1 for a reusable one – and taxes on single-use cups instigated by the universities of Winchester and Reading.

Hugh Jones, programme area manager for food waste prevention in Wales at WRAP, explored broader issues of food waste, while Flawsome Drinks’ Maciek Kacprzyk discussed the benefits of ‘wonky’ fruit and veg, in light of research suggesting that a third of all food is wasted due to aesthetic standards or supply chain inefficiencies.

This was an opportunity to meet people running companies which have set out to put planet before profit yet have still delivered commercially
 – Matthew White, TUCO chair

Ben Greensmith, UK country manager at Tony’s Chocolonely, addressed raising awareness of child slavery in the chocolate industry, claiming that 90% of children working on cocoa farms are working illegally.

Other speakers included Helen Harwatt, an environmental social scientist at Harvard University; Dr Marco Springmann, a senior researcher in population health from Oxford University; and Nick Waring from Jimmy’s Iced Coffee.

Founder of the Green Vic and the Better World Group, Randy Rampersad, concluded the speaker sessions by outlining the success of his ‘planet over profit’ ethos.

In accordance with the theme, a bespoke app enabled the whole conference to be a paper-free affair, while £1500 was donated to Regrow Borneo to help offset the event’s carbon footprint.

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