Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 27 2014

3 Ways To Make Your Meeting’s Menu More Sustainable

By David McMillin
Local Food

Meeting professionals constantly have food and beverage items on their brains. From accommodating attendee dietary restrictions to negotiating group F&B discounts with conference venues, menus are a top priority for everyone in the industry. However, at the most recent Responsible Business Forum held at Marina Bay Sands, organizers and attendees weren’t just thinking about their own appetites. Everyone was equally concerned with making a difference with the menu, too.

“It’s great to see sustainability embedded in every detail at RBF 2013,” Ynse de Boer, Partner & Managing Director, Accenture Strategy & Sustainability, ASEAN, said after the event ended. “There are so many touch points during an event and in such a venue that regardless of the collective quantitative impact of all the initiatives, the impact in terms of raising the awareness is very significant. We can see all around us people talking about the efforts that have been made.”

“Take the water dispensers and glasses,” de Boer continued. “Who is not uncomfortable with the hypocrisy of talking about climate change whilst sipping water from a Styrofoam disposable cup?”

In walking the talk, Marina Bay Sands worked to make sure that everyone felt good about what was on the plates in front of them. As you work to plan the menu at your next meeting, here are three key lessons from RBF to help shape your thinking.

1)    Go local.

“Locally sourced ingredients” represents more than a trending term at farm-to-table restaurants. Using fresh produce and foods from nearby farms is also a key ingredient in reducing your meeting’s carbon footprint. At RBF, the Marina Bay Sands culinary staff sourced a customized, vegetarian menu using ingredients from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia to reduce the number of miles traveled for the menu.

2)    Press pause on beverage service.

Many meeting professionals have found themselves in this scenario: you’ve planned for x-number of table settings at your closing lunch, but there are loads of empty seats. A cup of ice water or lemonade sits at each of them, and at the end of the meal, many gallons of liquid that never needed to be poured go down the drain. At the 2013 Responsible Business Forum at Marina Bay Sands, organizers opted against pre-pouring service to avoid wasting beverages on absent attendees.

3)    Leave the leftovers for the community.

Every meeting professional recognizes that a conference can have a huge impact on the host city. At RBF 2013, Marina Bay Sands worked to donate bread that was not consumed at the event to a designated charity called Food From The Heart, which delivers bread to children, elderly and needy families in Singapore.

Have you taken any steps to reduce waste with your meeting’s menu? Click here to visit Catalyst and share how your meeting’s F&B options consider the environment.

This educational article was brought to you by Marina Bay Sands. The integrated resort is the first event and conference venue outside the United States to receive certification for its initiatives in green meetings. Click here to learn how Marina Bay Sands has helped other meeting professionals make their conferences more environmentally-friendly.

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