Why measure food and drink impacts?
Quite often the food and drink which is available at a sport or cultural event is part of the visitor experience. However, food and drink purchased and consumed at events can have a significant environmental impact. The scale of impact will depend not only on the quantity of food and drink that visitors consume, but also the type of food and drink, the method of production (i.e. organic versus conventional), its origin (i.e. local versus non local), how much ends up as waste, and whether or not it is composted.
A number of event organisers have focused their efforts on reducing the number of so-called ‘food miles’ in an attempt to lower the environmental impact of food and drink provided at their events. The sourcing of locally produced food and drink is an important step towards reducing the environmental impact of what visitors eat and drink at events. Providing locally sourced food and drink can also have a positive impact on the local economy, supporting local incomes. However, the amount of energy and resources that are required to produce food and drink is often more significant that ‘food miles’. Another important step is reducing the amount of food and drink that ends up as waste!
The environmental impact of food and drink can be measured using a survey of visitors during an event. Alternatively, a survey of food and drink outlets (permanent and mobile) following the event is useful as owners should be able to recall sales information on the number of items sold.