Taking another step toward sustainability

Victoria food services trade show example shows how far composting and recycling activities can be taken

Lindsay Palesch

Lindsay Palesch picked a near-perfect spot to host her first food vendor trade show in Victoria with a zero-waste objective.

The Vancouver-based special events co-ordinator for international distributor Gordon Food Service booked the Laurel Point Inn – which bills itself as B.C.’s first carbon-neutral hotel – to host the March 7 show spotlighting companies whose products are sold through GFS.

Chefs and other buyers from the restaurant and food service industry in Greater Victoria sampled food at about 40 vendor booths, served up on recyclable plates and in some cases, skewered on compostible utensils.

“It was slow to start, I think, because it was a change,” said Palesch, a self-described avid household recycler who took the zero-waste trade show idea to her company four years ago.

“It’s evolved over time and we’ve had buy-in from the vendors.”

To get a sense of how much waste is being diverted, a large show Palesch and company put on the day before in Vancouver saw about 254 kilograms of compostible or recyclable waste produced and just seven kg of non-recyclable materials.

“It used to be that everything went into the garbage,” she says of the days before the zero-waste mantra. “It’s made a huge difference.”

The move toward sustainability for this relatively small element of the food industry is of great interest to Doug Schell, general manager of Ellice Recycle Ltd.

He was happy to get on board with Gordon, one of the largest food service distributors in B.C., and the Laurel Point Inn to ensure all materials that could be recycled or composted from the trade show were directed to the appropriate waste streams.

Undertaking such an initiative was beyond the hotel’s scope, Schell said, so Ellice was brought in to augment their internal operations.

“It’s got to come from the top down and they were firm on their commitment,” he said of the hotel management.

One of Schell’s roles with Ellice is to boost recycling by businesses.

He aims to encourage more operators, including those in the restaurant and food industries, to look at ways of reducing their waste.

As more materials become banned from the Hartland landfill, he said, businesses will need to become more aware of how and where they can dispose of their waste.

A complete list of items accepted for disposal at the Ellice yard on David Street in the Rock Bay neighbourhood is at ellicerecycle.com under ‘Is it Recyclable?’

editor@vicnews.com