Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Can Food Truck Catering be Sustainable?

photo of Shawna McKinley of MeetGreen at local food truck
Traditionally, food trucks are not known for being green because of all of the individual, disposable service ware. Trendy and local, but not necessarily sustainable. Our job at a recent event was to ensure the meal function was as environmentally friendly as it was fun.

Early on, we started asking questions of the food truck vendors to minimize the event’s footprint.  The Living Future event worked with our coordinator to ensure the trucks could provide compostable service ware.  A checklist of specific requirements was circulated and information was used in deciding which food vendors would participate in the event.

Onsite, Shawna McKinley, our Director of Sustainability (pictured above working with one of the vendors), took the lead in implementing green practices. As in the last blog post which provided a list of lessons learned about logistical issues, here she shares with us tips for green initiatives.

  • Require compostable serviceware. In our case, only two vendors did not have 100% compostables. Those that were non-compliant only had one item that was plastic and could be recycled. 
  • Communicate to attendees about composting. Signage should follow a consistent color-coding. 
  • Post people (either volunteers or staff) at the waste stations to assist your participants with the recycling efforts. Sorting can be complicated and the streams must stay relatively clean to be accepted by the recycler or compost company. 
  • Manage attendee expectations about disposables. If your group is particularly environmentally focused, some may be disappointed by the amount of disposable serviceware required at this event.  Research if a re-useable lunch container for food trucks operates in the city.  In Portland, we are lucky to have this solution for food trucks.
  • "Compostable" does not necessarily mean compostable by the venue, so it would help to cross reference the requirements of the venue hauler with the serviceware used using samples from the trucks as early as possible (i.e. not when the trucks arrive onsite). 

As green event planners, exciting new types of events may challenge our sustainability efforts. With time to thoughtfully address sustainability issues and follow-up onsite, you can be successful. Think of it as an opportunity to be creative and take your current knowledge into a new realm of meeting management.

Additional Resource from Shawna McKinley:  Good Food Guide for Street Vendors

1 comment:

Chan Nak said...

Great! In every business, owner should consider the status of the environment, whether it would be affected or not or how to minimize it's effects. Lunch van services is just another way of catering food to customers, aside from giving a good service, it is also safe because it stores fresh foods for a period of long time.