Zero-Waste Catering Trial

By ali August 14, 2014

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Ali (Clover catering manager) here. I think some folks who knew me as an environmental engineer might find it strange that I’m working in catering now. I grew up in Alaska where my mom was a park ranger, I worked in environmental engineering, and after a lot of soul (and internet!) searching, I eventually found my way to the food industry. I’ve always been fascinated by food and packaging and waste.

This spring, MIT chose Clover to pilot an idea they’ve been interested in for a while: Zero Waste Catering. I was really excited. Most catering produces lots of garbage. If you’ve ever been to a conference you might have eaten a bagged lunch with plastic wrap, forks, knives, spoons (many of which aren’t even touched). No one likes to see all that waste, but it’s really common.

MIT hired us to cater a 3-day, 300-employee celebration at the Media Lab, and challenged us to create zero waste. Our catering is already pretty low-waste, but we made a couple adjustments. We wrapped sandwiches with our butcher paper, set them up on racks, sent our salads in our reusable “third pan” containers, and loaded everything onto rolling carts.

SIDE NOTE: If you have experience in catering, and something like this excites you, I’m hiring for my replacement! I’m moving to become the account manager for our Whole Foods partnership, and we’re actively recruiting for the next Catering Manager. You can apply online through the Careers tab of this website.

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