Take on the charity's 'Plastic Challenge' to try and detox your life of the planet's substance of convenience  

With more plastic than fish (by weight) in our seas predicted to be a possibility by 2050, our reliance on plastic in all its forms is clear. 

We’re in a plastic pickle.

With the nightmare that plastic pollution is creating in our oceans now high on political, personal and news agendas, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the UK's leading marine charity, is once again throwing down the gauntlet to the public to take on its Plastic Challenge.  

MCS is asking people to give up single-use plastics for the whole of July.  

Simon Reeve, TV presenter and MCS Ocean Ambassador, says “Our planet is becoming poisoned by plastic. The vast amount in our oceans has become an environmental emergency as a direct result of our throwaway society. That’s why I’m supporting thousands of people living without single use plastic this July as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge. Don’t just get depressed about plastic - stop using it!” 

The charity has run the Plastic Challenge for the last four years – and has been supported in doing so by BRITA UK since 2016. More than 1,000 people took part in 2016, and last year over 5,035 registered to give up using single use plastic. That includes food packaged in plastic, plastic water bottles, plastic milk bottles, shower gels, toothpaste and pasta to name but a very few! 

 “This is a challenge that you can make as easy or as hard for yourself as you like” says Dr. Sue Kinsey MCS Technical Specialist. “But however you choose to do it you won't fail to realise just how reliant on plastic we’ve become. Some things are really tough to replace however much you want to give up single-use plastic”. 

"The support we had last year was amazing and we know, from the comments we received on social media, that for many, this month is the start of a lifestyle change." 

Among the things people found hardest to replace were milk containers, dried goods packaged in single use plastic like pasta rice and pulses, loo paper and toothpaste. 

MCS says that many people who take on the challenge really do get stuck in. 

“They know why it’s so important to cut down on our plastic use," says Dr Kinsey. "If these dedicated ditchers found it hard to find non single use plastic alternatives then that just goes to show how plastic dominates our lives even if you actively don’t want it to." 

This year MCS hopes even more people will try and give up single use plastic during July. The BBC's Blue Planet II brought the issue of plastic pollution in our seas into the UK's sittings rooms at the back end of last year and this year there's also more help and advice available than before to help Challengers.  

MCS has written a book on the living life without plastic: "How To Live Plastic Free – a day in the life of a plastic detox" (Published by Headline UK, ISBN 978-1-4722-5981-3) 

The book takes you through an average day giving tips and practical advice on how to remove unnecessary plastic at every opportunity. From getting up to going to bed you can find out about plastic-free cosmetics, mealtimes, shopping, workplace, pets, sporting and special events.        

Last year Challengers made their own bread, yogurt, cleaning and bathroom products like mouthwash and sugar scrubs so as not to use plastic containers that are used once and then thrown out. 

MCS beach cleaning data has revealed a rise of 180% of plastic litter found on beaches in the last two decades posing a huge threat to wildlife and humans. Plastic bags, bottles and tiny plastic pieces, are regularly found in the stomachs of turtles and other sea creatures and in some cases have caused their death from starvation or choking. 

“Reducing plastic litter will certainly be an uphill climb - but there are some easy steps to take and if we can all cut down the amount we use there’s no doubt our marine environment will be a healthier place” says Dr. Kinsey. “People taking on the Plastic Challenge are often shocked to find out just how much single-use plastic is used every day. Have a go and even if you can only manage a single day and you’ll never look at your shopping in the same way again!” 

The Plastic Challenge is once again being sponsored by water filtration company BRITA UK. Becky Widdowson is BRITA UK's Marketing Director: ”It’s fantastic to be supporting the Plastic Challenge alongside MCS once again. At BRITA UK we believe it is absolutely vital that we step up to protect marine life from the unnecessary damage done by single use plastic bottles and other forms of plastic litter. One or two small changes such as carrying a refillable bottle or a reusable bag or opting out of disposable bottled water when we buy our lunch or go to the gym, could have such an enormous positive impact. Given that 60 per cent of people would be willing to switch from bottled water to more environmentally friendly alternatives it’s clear this can be done."  

Sign up to take part in the Plastic Challenge at: www.mcsuk.org/plastic-challenge   

"How To Live Plastic Free – a day in the life of a plastic detox" (Published by Headline UK, ISBN 978-1-4722-5981-3) is available to buy now. For details visit: www.mcsuk.org/news/MCS-Live-Plastic-Free-Book

Published in News

A Cambridge College, and TUCO member, is celebrating the success of one of its employees who has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award from the UK’s oldest culinary organisation.

Jaroslava Vankova, who is Functions Supervisor at St John’s College, was ranked in the top six for the 2018 President’s Award with the Réunion des Gastronomes. The Award, which identifies and encourages excellence in professional food and beverage services, is open to anyone working full-time at a team management level in food and beverage services in the UK hospitality industry.

 Jaroslava was selected for the final shortlist of six and invited to the Institute of Directors in London to meet a judging panel and have lunch with the other candidates. She started working at St John’s College as a casual employee before becoming Functions Assistant in 2013 and then being promoted to Functions Supervisor in 2017. Her previous roles include working in a hotel in Bideford, Devon and then at the Lensfield Hotel in Cambridge.

Bill Brogan, Catering & Conference Manager at St John’s College said: “We are incredibly proud of Jaroslava’s achievement in reaching the final shortlist for the President’s Award in the Réunion des Gastronomes.

“This prestigious organisation provides a unique opportunity for learning and advancement supported by members of the Réunion and the Award is pitched at the very highest levels in the industry. Although she didn’t make it to the final three, it was a great experience for Jaroslava and underlines her commitment to developing her career further.”

Wallace Vincent, President of the Réunion, added: “It is only our second year of running this award, and after the success of last year, the calibre and number of entries is clearly going from strength to strength.”

All finalists will be invited to the Annual Banquet at the Savoy in November, at which the winner will be announced. The winner will receive four two-day placements across different industry sectors, as well as benefit from unique mentoring and networking opportunities.

Published in News

Operators emerge from challenges with the highest levels of optimism for more than two years, the CGA Fourth Business Confidence Survey reveals.

Confidence is starting to return to the eating and drinking-out sector - despite a host of pressures on the market. But there remains a gap between the optimism that leaders of Britain’s restaurant, pub and bar groups have about their own businesses and their confidence in the market as a whole.

The latest CGA Fourth Business Confidence Survey, carried out in May by business insight consultancy CGA in partnership with leading hospitality software provider Fourth, reveals that 75% of company leaders are now optimistic about the prospects for their own business over the next 12 months—11 percentage points more than at the time of the last confidence survey in February.

There is also an upswing in bosses’ confidence for the overall market, although the survey finds that less than half (47%) are upbeat about prospects for the wider eating and drinking out sector over the next 12 months. This also represents an 11 percentage points increase on three months earlier, and both figures are the highest recorded by the survey since February 2016.

However, they are still below the levels seen before the Brexit vote. In February, three quarters of leaders said their businesses had been adversely affected by the consequences of the referendum.

“The more upbeat tone of the survey appears at odds with the recent news of some high profile restaurant closures in the first half of this year, driven by business challenges including rising food, people and property costs and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit,” said CGA’s CEO Phil Tate.

“But it might be because of this market shake out, coupled with more stable food prices, that business executives are now gaining more confidence,” Tate added.

As one survey participant observed: “The [restaurant] market is sorting itself out like the pub industry did a few years ago. We are over saturated with some struggling brands. Once they leave, which is happening, there will be opportunities for better brands.”

And as another commented: “An unsettled market presents opportunities for established operators with a clear offer.”

Ben Hood, CEO of Fourth, said: “In the face of challenging external headwinds in rising costs of both labour and inventory, there remains a cohort of outstanding operators who are constantly looking inwardly at their businesses and investing in the marketing and technology they need to increase efficiencies and improve their offer and the customer experience. There will always be an appetite for spending on food and drink among UK consumers, it’s ingrained in our culture, and these slick, streamlined businesses are in pole position to thrive over the coming years.”

Tate noted that the continuing gap between market and individual business confidence was a cause for concern as it highlighted an underlying nervousness that might affect corporate investment and growth decisions. But with CGA data indicating that people continue to go out to eat and drink, the results show that there is plenty of room for distinctive, customer-focused brands to succeed.

Phil Tate concluded: “After a tough start to 2018, this latest Business Confidence Survey is a welcome reminder that hospitality remains an essentially upbeat industry. CGA’s research shows that like-for-like sales growth is modest, and that many restaurant, pub and bar operators have scaled back their new openings plans—but conditions that challenge some businesses can also bring opportunities for others.”

The CGA Fourth Business Confidence Survey is produced in partnership with Fourth and is based on responses from 160 leading figures from the industry, working at CEO, MD, chairman, board and senior management levels.

Published in News

Leicester Services Partnership are looking for an Operations Manager to manage all day to day catering and retail operations, vending, hospitality and event catering and the conference food delivery service, in accordance with relevant legislation regarding premises licenses, food safety and health and safety and all Company policies and procedures. 

About Leicester Services Partnership

Leicester Services Partnership formed from the joint venture partnership between the University of Leicester and its Student’s Union and was the first of its kind in the UK amongst the Higher Education institutes to unify and deliver all catering, retail and bars operations across the campus and offering something entirely new for customers, starting with the launch of the visual retail brand ‘Here for U’.

‘Here for U’ is the visual brand of the equal partnership venture created to unify operations and deliver a consistent customer service experience as well as provide inspirational spaces to eat, drink, relax, reflect, learn and socialise here at the University of Leicester.

This partnership and brand identity will signal change; offering a fresh new start to all those operating within in it and therefore benefiting the customer by offering exciting, vibrant and current food options and trends, improve the efficiency across the board by streamlining operations and attract new and retain customers through a variety of offers and discounts as well as an enticing loyalty scheme.

Find out more and download the job specification here.

Published in News

More than four in ten (41%) Brits think we’ll be eating lab-grown meat and fish within just ten years, according to research by the human experience company, Starcom.

Lab-grown meat and fish, also known as cultured meat, is grown in a cell culture instead of inside of animals. It has been developed for nearly twenty years with NASA being one of the earliest groups to research its viability in 2002.2

Shortages of meat and fish is the top reason why people say they would eat lab-grown produce, followed by environmental and sustainability concerns. This isn’t surprising as currently around 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions are produced as a result of the meat industry.3 Pescetarians and vegetarians are the most confident with the speed of adoption with 59% and 51% respectively believing it’ll be on our plates within 10 years.

Starcom surveyed 2,000 people as part of its ongoing ‘Future of…’ thought-leadership series, which is based on rich insight into consumer trends and how emerging behaviours will impact brands and society as a whole. 

With rising food prices already rising quickly, 90% of Brits that do a weekly shop say they would start cutting back on spending if they were to rise again. Fresh meat and fish will be culled from the basket before fresh fruit and veg.

 It’s clear that for lab-grown meat and fish to become an accepted part of our diet, it needs to mimic closely the original. The most important quality for consumers is taste, followed by texture, smell and then its look.

There is still education needed for the majority of Brits to get used to the new food type. Currently 42% of people would eat lab-grown meat or fish in a restaurant, which drops slightly when it comes to fast food restaurants (37%).

Jodie Stranger, Starcom UK Group chief executive and president of global network clients, EMEA, said:

“The research is a fascinating look into the motivations and perceptions of consumers. For a food source that only really started proper development in the early noughties to have such acceptance already is amazing. It appears that this willingness to try something very new, and out of the norm, comes from a desire to help the planet and reduce the strains of meat production.”

 “Although greater education about the benefits of lab-grown produce is necessary, Brits are responsive. Nothing can undermine the need for a great tasting and good quality meal. However, with pressures on the industry to source the sheer quantity needed to feed our appetites and for consumers to pay for it, we’re going to see a lot more on interest in this area. Brands that create a great product and manage to effectively educate the market will reap the rewards.”

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