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Govt unveils sustainable catering policy

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The Government of Gibraltar has committed to providing more vegan and vegetarian dishes when catering for officials meetings and functions as well as Government supported events such as Calentita.

This aim forms part of a policy regarding the adoption of sustainable catering practices including procuring food and food services by the Government.

In addition to its commitment to contract caterers that provide less red meat options and more plant-based options the caterer must provide options for organic food when possible, avoid bottled water, provide foods that have lower food miles by sourcing regionally rather than further afield.

These catering companies must show evidence that they have taken steps to minimise energy and water consumption through efficient administration, equipment selection, usage and disposal, food storage, preparation and cooking.

“Sustainable catering is about selecting and engaging with catering suppliers to promote good practice and support more responsible food choices,” said the Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change, Dr John Cortes.

“It responds to a growing awareness of the environmental and health impacts of our diets and the need to procure and handle food responsibly whilst achieving best value for money. This Government has a commitment to a healthy, safer and more sustainable Gibraltar.”

Commissioner for Sustainable Development and Future Generations, Professor Daniella Tilbury, added that daily choices make a difference to the future of the planet.

“People’s wellbeing and the health of our planet rely on food choices that respect planetary boundaries and human rights,” Professor Tilbury said.

“Our daily choices make a significant difference not just to our own life chances but also to the future of the planet.”

A separate document outlining sustainable catering considerations for hospitals, homes and schools will be developed.

Within the new policy the Government notes the importance of reducing the carbon footprint of food.

“There are multiple ways in which the carbon footprint of food can be reduced. Between 20% and 29% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food production, with red meat being the biggest contributor,” the policy states.

“A diet based on fruits, vegetables and grains has the least impact on the environment, with pork, chicken and fish creating a moderate impact, and beef and lamb the greatest footprint.”

“Reducing food miles and choosing organic options can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from the production and transport of food. Transporting food requires petroleum-based fuels, and many fertilizers are also fossil fuel-based.”

“Switching from bottled water to tap water will reduce our carbon footprint. The carbon dioxide emissions associated with one litre of mineral water in a glass or PET bottle throughout the entire product lifecycle are around 200 to 400 times higher than that of one litre of tap water.”

“Choosing energy efficient equipment and adopting sustainable practices that minimise water and electricity consumption whilst preparing, cooking and storing food can also reduce the carbon footprint of food.”

The Government is also committed to sustainable catering via food wastage reduction.

It aims to only contract caterers that reduce all food waste by limiting quantities by making realistic estimates of the number of people and their eating habits, compost unavoidable and make arrangements for leftover food to be donated to local charities and those in need.

The welfare standards of animals that are to be consumed also factors into the policy with the Government stating it is committed to providing meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from sources using practices that conform to high environmental, social and animal welfare standards.

Where possible the Government will support Fair Trade coffee, chocolate and bananas to ensure fair prices, living wages and community benefits for farmers, workers and their families and the caterers that provide these options.

The Government also encourages the caterer to use fish from sustainable stocks, promoting fish recommended by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), use fresh, seasonal and healthy options for catering outlets and hospitality menus, and avoid over-packaging.

The caterer must also use reusable crockery instead of disposables, where it is appropriate and provide reusable/biodegradable products instead of polystyrene or non-recyclable plastics and separate and manage waste responsibly.

The policy has been informed by discussions with various stakeholder groups including the Sustainable Gibraltar Food Working Group and has been developed by the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainable Development and Future Generations.

The document can be downloaded online from:

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