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Q&A: Lime Venue Portfolio’s Kerry Wright on how to make your meetings more sustainable

We sat down with Kerry Wright, Head of Group Sales at Lime Venue Portfolio, to discover how the company’s Meetings for Change initiative can help take away your eco-anxieties…

Tell us about Lime Venue Portfolio and why you’ve undertaken the Meetings for Change initiative.

Lime Venue Portfolio is the UK’s largest collection of diverse venues, which also happen to be connected by great tasting food and memorable experiences.

In fact, since launching in 2008 we’ve grown to represent over 80 independent venues across the country, encompassing everything from castles, zoos, race courses and stadiums to purpose built conference, training and exhibition centres.

All these venues are operated by Compass Group UK & Ireland, which last year joined the UN’s Race to Zero campaign and announced a commitment to reach Net Zero by 2030 – a very bold statement for the UK’s largest caterer.

What are the specific goals of the initiative?

Well, Compass Group UK & Ireland is the first in the industry to publish a Net Zero plan, which will help deliver its ambition to create a sustainable food system within the business and wider sector.

In terms of the overall goals, we will be using 100% reusable/recycled packaging by 2023, a 25% switch to animal proteins in our menus by 2025 and a 65% reduction in the carbon footprint of the entire business by 2030.

So, what does that mean for meetings and events?

That’s where Meetings for Change comes into play. We understand that it’s not always easy for PAs, EAs and Office Managers to ensure that their meetings and events are sustainable, as so much depends on individual venues and their suppliers.

Meetings for Change has been designed by the team here at Lime Venues Portfolio to help remove those eco anxieties, so that our clients can plan their events with confidence when it comes to environmental impact.

In short, all our venues will, as standard, offer our five key sustainability priorities as part of their catering packages, in line with our climate promise:-

1/ We aim to ensure that 80% of the ingredients on our menus will be British grown, plus our chicken and milk will be Red Tractor assured.

2/ We believe in the power of plants, with our menus offering plant-focused dishes with a choice of alternative proteins.

3/ We take a ‘zero waste’ approach with our food, root-to-stem, nose-to-tail, while using recycled and reusable packaging where we can. At a recent event held at London ExCeL, we used 10,000 unpeeled carrots to avoid the peels being discarded.

4/ We strive for ethical sourcing. For example, our teas and coffees come from responsible suppliers, while all our chocolate is Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certified.

5/ We fundamentally believe in protecting our planet, with the promise to be net zero by 2030.

Tell us about how Meetings for Change has been deployed in the real world so far?

We’re immensely proud that the recent Cop26 climate change conference took place at the SEC in Glasgow, which is a Lime Venues Portfolio venue.

As such, we were responsible for all of the catering services across the event, which of course meant that sustainability was key.

Our teams worked closely alongside the Government and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ensure each menu at the event was not only fully sustainable, but also locally sourced.

Ultimately, it would have been impossible for any of the countries and companies involved at Cop26 to host the event without considering putting sustainability at the heart of elements such as catering.

What would you say to people not yet engaged with sustainability in meetings and events?

By choosing your partners well you can take away much of the stress associated with ensuring your meetings and events are sustainable. At Lime Venues Portfolio we can take care of all your sustainability objectives to give you and your company complete peace of mind.

And if you’re in doubt about how important the road to Net Zero is for this industry and the world, consider this: One of this country’s most iconic venues, the O2 in London, could be underwater in just 20 years time if we don’t keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees.

Want to find out more about Lime Venue Portfolio’s Meetings for Change initiative? Don’t forget to RSVP for our exclusive Meet Up networking event for PA Life readers at Pennethorne’s Bar, Somerset House, on Thursday 27th January 2022, courtesy of Restaurant Associates Venues, part of Lime Venue Portfolio.