Meet the Sustainability Leader: Sustainable Business of the Year – BaxterStorey

With the entry deadline for edie's revamped 2019 Sustainability Leaders Awards extended until 21 September, this feature series will showcase the achievements of the 2018 winners, revealing their secrets to success. Up next: our 2018 Sustainability Business of the Year winners: BaxterStorey.

UK hospitality provider BaxterStorey has highlighted that an ambitious and ever-evolving sustainability strategy can create a real competitive edge for a company that is willing to reach outwards to build relationships based on environmental and social actions.

“Winning the Sustainable Business of the Year Award in 2018 was, and still is an amazing experience,” BaxterStorey’s head of sustainable business Mike Hanson told edie. “To be shortlisted alongside big hitters like Ikea, Timberland and the Coal Authority was incredibly humbling.  To be one of the winners in your own industry is one thing, but being up there with the big boys is quite something else.

“Being recognised on that scale is a big endorsement for what we do, and it has helped reinforce our message to teams that our combined efforts to be more sustainable matters, and is just as significant externally as it internally. I’m lucky because my colleagues, especially my manager Sarah Miller, ‘get’ what I do. They understand the value and the positive impact it has from supply chain right up to our teams, clients and our customers. I am very proud of what we have achieved so far and am excited about where we are headed.”

BaxterStorey formally launched its sustainability agenda back in 2006. A decade on, the company has generated a growing list of accolades; from becoming a certified Carbon Neutral company in 2007, to saving £6m in food waste costs each year.

The headline stats make impressive reading for BaxterStorey. The company has achieved a 39% reduction in food waste arising across the entire business, equating to a carbon reduction of 33,600 tonnes annually.

Around 3,700 tonnes of food have been saved through BaxterStorey’s approach to sustainability, and the company has also generated savings of £2m in waste disposal costs and energy savings of £200,000.

These cost reductions are the primary reason why BaxterStorey is becoming the preferred choice of business partner for clients. Companies in the hospitality sector are increasingly keen to engage with partners that can demonstrate leading environmental awareness and showcase best practice when it comes to sustainability.

To achieve these impressive reductions, BaxterStorey realised that a sustainability strategy couldn’t just act as lip service and positive public relations, but rather a holistic approach to business that underpins operations, external relationships and internal behaviour. The company views the latter as the most important piece of the jigsaw.

Focusing on the sustainable behaviour of staff who work at the heart of the business forced BaxterStorey to think differently about its approach and to be more creative and innovative in how it interacts with internal and external stakeholders.

BaxterStorey’s operation is built on a firm foundation of staff interaction. Training has been vital to achieving internal behaviour change; the company operates Green Flash programmes across its portfolio to engage staff on certain sustainability aspects. Each Green Flash is a suite of 20-30-minute, peer-led training sessions which have already covered “Energy & Water Efficiency in Your Location”, as well as specific projects regarding Marine Stewardship Chain of Custody for Sustainable Fish, Food Waste Minimisation and Reporting.

Select chef directors, in conjunction with the supply chain, run “Food File” events, which are attended by clients, customers and staff. The events focus on food innovation, local and seasonal sourcing, wellbeing, sustainable diets, healthy eating and food waste minimisation.

While staff engagement is vital, it is being driven at a top-level approach. All client management reviews are fitted with relevant sustainability activities for each site. These include monthly food waste statistics, waste reduction, energy efficiency measures and any opportunities to develop practices further, through aspects such as sustainable lifestyle workshops and plant protein masterclasses.

The very nature of BaxterStorey’s business means that it consumes a huge amount of energy while producing massive volumes of food waste. The food waste reductions to date have been achieved by revolutionising how staff segregate and report on waste. At the end of 2014, the company began to segregate, weigh and report of food waste across the entire business.

More than 900 sites are now segregating food waste by plate waste, production waste and spoilage waste, which are reported through an online accounting system. BaxterStorey now has the ability to monitor food waste by weight, cost and environmental impact on a daily basis. Combining the reporting process with purpose-built training sessions under the company’s Green Flash behavioural change initiative was a driving factor in the recorded 39% reduction in food waste.

The energy savings have been produced by aligning methods to an ISO 14001-certified Environmental Management System. This framework has also been built upon social programmes that engage staff with efficiency measures.

BaxterStorey has been keen to share progress regularly with customers and stakeholders, through presentations, roadshows, client intranets and via social media. The company will spend the next three years attempting to reach certain CSR goals, including a plan to procure 100% renewable electricity by 2020 and then reach Carbon Neutral certification for fleet and business travel.

These goals and strategies have all been drawn up with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in mind. BaxterStorey is using the goals as a driver to pull together different strands of the business to reach goals in areas such as sustainable procurement, innovation and community involvement; all sitting under a Second Nature umbrella strategy. In early 2018, the company will be launching a sustainable diet and plant protein programme.

What the judges said: “What stands out with this entry is BaxterStorey’s proactive approach to finding innovative, sustainable solutions that could transform the entire foodservice industry. The company’s CSR approach is unique and diverse, going above and beyond its own operations to try and deliver real system change.”

edie’s 2019 Sustainability Leaders Award

Now in their 12th year, the RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards have undergone a major revamp, with a host of new categories and judges, a new Awards venue, and a new Mission Possible theme – making 6 February 2019 the biggest night of the sustainable business calendar.

The entry deadline for the 2019 Sustainability Leaders Awards is Friday, 21 September 2018. The Awards will then take place on the night of 6 February 2019 at the Park Plaza London, Westminster. 

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie