Case Study: The Championships, Wimbledon - Food waste service is the perfect match at Wimbledon

From Andy Murray’s famous victory in 2013, to English strawberries and the pristine sheen of the grass, The Championships at Wimbledon are synonymous with summer.

Each year, almost half a million tennis fans flock to the All England Club to watch the world’s top tennis players fight it out on the famous lawns of SW19.

Wimbledon is the largest single annual sporting catering operation in Europe and between them, visitors typically consume around 190,000 sandwiches, 32,000 portions of fish and chips, 28,000 bottles of champagne – plus some 28,000kg of strawberries and over 7,000 litres of fresh cream.

Given the scale of the operation, it’s not surprising that managing food waste is high on the agenda for The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), catering supplier Compass Group and Grundon Waste Management, which has the waste contract for the event.

Grundon managing the waste for the All England Lawn Tennis Club
Grundon managing the waste for the All England Lawn Tennis Club

Grundon Waste Management Limited works in partnership with The All England Lawn Tennis Club to manage the waste at The Championships, Wimbledon.

The segregation of food waste was successfully introduced for the first time in 2013 and, for this year’s event, the team was determined to raise awareness of best practice by encouraging staff to recycle food waste at every opportunity and increase accessibility of food waste containers.

Shaun Workman, from Grundon’s Special Events Team, who is responsible for working with the AELTC and Compass Group, explains: “Capture and recycling of food waste was our key goal for this year’s Championships and we were delighted to report that we more than doubled the tonnage on the previous year, from just over 12 tonnes of food to in excess of 28 tonnes.

“This is a fantastic improvement and means that an additional 16 tonnes of food waste was used to generate renewable electricity and produce compost for agricultural and horticultural purposes, rather than going to Energy from Waste.”

The team recognised that most of the emphasis had to be on eliminating food waste at the back of house, no mean task given that around 1,800 catering staff work on site during Wimbledon fortnight.

Two key measures helped to deliver the increase – the first was the fact that Grundon was able to accept primary packaging (sandwich wrappings and plastic cases etc) with the food waste, and secondly, that 120 litre bins were located around the AELTC where food waste would be generated.

To also encourage the public to recycle more, a simple two-streamed waste bin system was provided, with new bin sheds replacing free-standing 240 litre wheelie bins, a system which, said Workman, worked well.

In addition to the impressive rise in food waste recycling, the amount of mixed recycling also increased, while the tonnage of materials sent to Energy from Waste reduced accordingly.

Overall, the average of amount materials recycled or recovered through being sent to Energy from Waste increased from 96.59% in 2013 to 96.71% in 2014.

In terms of eco-savings, statistics showed that the equivalent number of trees saved through total waste recycling rose from 1,596 in 2013 to 1,913 this year; while CO2 saved rose from 101,883kg to 102,431kg.

John Cox, AELTC Buildings and Services Manager, said: “We were very pleased with the level of waste management services provided by Grundon during The Championships 2014.

“We always want people to have a fantastic day out enjoying the tennis and our excellent range of food and hospitality, but at the same time it’s important for us to take waste management and recycling seriously. This year’s achievements in food waste especially have already helped us make a big leap forward and we look forward to seeing even greater success in 2015.”

Shaun Workman added: “Food waste was clearly a success story of The Championships this year, however, there is still room for improvement, so we are aiming to break the 30 tonne mark – and possibly even 40 tonnes – next year.”

Plans for 2015 include training events for the Compass Group team to help them understand the need to keep waste streams separate and the introduction of kitchen caddies in food preparation areas.

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