Inside Foodbuy PT10: Rethinking plastic with Gemma Oldridge

29 July 2021

1.Tell me about your role.

Well, as the Consumables Category Manager here at Foodbuy, my role has a variety of elements to it, often client facing, fast paced, and of high volume, with a large commercial value at stake.

The core process within my role often starts with a client’s requirements and understanding what that looks like holistically, the team then investigate sourcing and managing that requirement until the delivery is spot on!

One of, if not the most important element that has taken the front seat in the last year is working with our clients and supply base to ensure we have Covid related PPE and cleaning products for our Healthcare workers and the rest of our estate, to enable both clients and colleagues to work safely and securely.

We are now also focusing on how to help deliver our Net Zero strategy and single-use plastic legislations. We are working with many talented individuals from our supply partners and our team of subject matter experts to help to explain and educate our clients and colleagues on how we can best support our future, all whilst ensuring that we are cost effective and capable on delivering results!

2. What is Foodbuy’s approach to single-use plastic?

Our key driver is to minimise the use of unnecessary single-use plastics, switching to reusable products wherever possible and choosing a more sustainable alternative where required.

The most important element is understanding the waste streams in place for each end user and educating the consumer on what to do with a single-use plastic at the end of the product’s life. Now more than ever, consumers are making decisions based on a companies’ environmental commitments, and they want to see clear, concise actions that showcase the work that is being carried out by you to support a cleaner, greener climate – which is where we come in!

3. What are we doing to help our clients to reduce single-use plastic?

Everything we can!

One of our largest supply partners, Bunzl Catering Supplies, often holds sustainability forums to help educate our clients on this topic, for us it’s about understanding more about the client and how they work operationally, what their requirements are and what their waste stream looks like.

Once we understand those elements then we can work on choosing a solution which may be short, medium, or long term in some instances – our initiatives surrounding single-use plastics, are entirely flexible models, meaning we adapt our strategies on a client-by-client basis, sharing with them our learnings and experiences along the way.

4. Tell us about the award-winning ‘Single-Use Plastic Guide’

I had the honour of working in partnership with one of our clients, to develop a framework for their business that would support their colleagues to make the right sustainable choices when ordering products for their catering units.

This framework gets updated yearly and is readily available for anyone in their business to use when deciding on a new menu or wanting to make a change.

Our progress

5. Are there any projects that you are working on that is related to sustainable packaging?

Well, we are currently working to ensure that all our clients are informed and ready for change ahead of any plastic legislation changes to come, many of which are choosing to change their range sooner and switching to a pulp based or reusable product, where possible.

6. Any upcoming sustainable packaging trend that you are excited about?

We’re seeing many products that are coated with things such as seaweed or grasses to replace the plastic lining many standard food packaging disposables might currently use. Although, it’s not quite there yet for dishes with an oily or very wet base.

We can also see many companies and start-ups working in the reusable space looking at how it could work in a contract catering industry. It’s great to see so much happening in that area, I think the challenge will come down to how these initiatives would work operationally, as it may not work for all clients in the same way.

Here at Foodbuy, we are extremely passionate about building your brand to the best it can be, responsibly. Learn more about our approach to sustainability.
If you’re interested in learning how we can help reduce single-use plastics for your business, get in touch with a member of the team today.