Food for all:      ISS drive the  conversation on food waste


Joanna Leyden, Waste Operations Manager, explains how she and Helene Carpentier, Senior Project Manager-Zero Waste, are kick-starting conversations to turn ideas into climate change action. Starting with a debate on food waste, they summarise the issues and the action 

Talking about big ideas 

Ted Talks are known talks from inspirational global speakers covering a huge range of topics. Ted Talks have now developed a concept called TED Circles to widen the conversations.

Ted Circles - countdown to COP 26

Simply put, Ted Circles events invite people to come together virtually to watch a Ted Talk and have a discussion afterwards. This year’s circles are all themed around climate change to mark the ‘Countdown’ to COP 26 the UN Climate Change conference to be hosted in Glasgow in November). 

My colleague Helene and I are passionate about getting climate change on the agenda within FM and we thought Ted Circles would be a great way to encourage colleagues to join the conversation. We are therefore hosting our very own series of ‘circles’ and I’m delighted to share the experience and encourage more people to get involved, understand and to take action against climate change.

The global scandal of food waste

With March 1st-7th 2021 being Food Waste Awareness Week our team decided, what a better place to start than with food waste activist Tristram Stuart’s talk ‘The Global Food Waste Scandal’. ISS colleagues from all areas of the business joined to watch Tristram’s video and then discussed openly their thoughts and views on the matter.

Tristram’s talk is very impactful and raises many startling statistics such as the fact that the western world produces three to four times the amount of food than it requires, which sparked great conversations within our groups.



Challenging consumer expectations

The debate kicked off with discussions on the public’s expectation of food availability; with supermarket shelves emptied due to COVID-19 causing people to really think about the value of food. 

However, the point was raised of how quickly we have shifted back to old behaviours and expectations that a variety of food should be readily available throughout the seasons and whether our habits are too ingrained to make a change? 

Factors in food waste

Waste is everyone's responsibility

The conversation turned to whose responsibility it is to manage the food waste issue; It was heartening to find that we agreed that everyone has a part to play in reducing food waste - from the individual to businesses - but it was recognised that more needs to be done by government with changes in legislation to drive a shift in attitudes and behaviours.

What can ISS do to drive change?

The debate focussed on applying ISS buying power to help reduce the food surplus problem, for example, buying ‘wonky' veg, could be one way we can support this. Another is continuing to use our platform within schools to help educate children about food waste and the importance of the effects it has on the planet. 

Food costs v food poverty

Discussion moved on to whether the cost of food was a contributing factor to the amount of food waste we see and whether buying power has a place in forcing business to make change. However, with the increasing number of people living in food poverty in the UK, participants agreed that increasing the cost of food to discourage food waste is decidedly not the right course of action. 

Conclusion: continuing the debate to drive action 

The session was concluded by recapping and sharing the highlights of our conversations; it was encouraging to ‘see’ that people left the session having made new connections, had new conversations, and hopefully we all learned something to take forward and continue the debate to drive real change. We are looking forward to continuing the conversations in forthcoming Ted Circles sessions.


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