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The NEC Group caterer Amadeus has partnered with charitable scheme Olio, which connects volunteer ‘Food Waste Heroes’ with businesses to share un-used food with those in the community.

Forming part of the food strand of NEC Sustain – the NEC Group’s all-encompassing sustainability programme, the first step of the scheme will see NEC Starbuck’s manager Emma Thomas handing over the first collection, which will go towards helping those in need in the Birmingham area.

As a Group that hosts 1,000s of events across its venues each year, the NEC Group makes a massive contribution to the local environment and has been working hard to improve its sustainability footprint, working with its arenas, exhibitions and events partners and customers.

Kathryn James, managing director, NEC Group conventions & exhibitions, said: “We’re extremely proud of our environmental footprint but we’re striving for more improvements. We’ve created a proactive culture of sustainable working within our business.

“Teaming up with Olio to share pre-packaged surplus foods was an idea generated by our staff to make a difference not only to the NEC Group but to our local community. Our NEC teams have also utilised waste exhibition materials to create a sensory garden in Chelmsley Wood, a quiet garden for a Midlands hospice and created a community ‘Wellies to Bellies’ garden project. We’ve come a long way since the early years of the NEC in 1976 – sustainability is now firmly at the top of our agenda!”

Delia Gadea, OLIO food waste heroes account manager, added: “Olio is thrilled to be working with the NEC Group to achieve Zero Edible Food Waste! We have been impressed with the level of commitment both senior management and NEC area managers have shown to ensure that food is easily accessible to the OLIO Food Waste Heroes volunteers who collect and then distribute the surplus food in their local communities via the OLIO app. All food collected is prepackaged items. The volunteers collect the surplus food and take it home. They can keep 10 per cent of it for themselves as a thank you and the rest of the food is made available on the OLIO app for everyone and anyone who wants it.

“The local community is notified that food items are available on the app and they message the volunteers to request them for free. The requesters (community groups or individuals) will then go to the volunteer’s house to pick up the food. The beauty of the app is that food is available to anyone who wants it, no questions asked. Our main drive is to save good food from going to waste and we know that at the same time we are helping to bring communities together and help struggling families to put food on the table.”

Olio is just one part of Amadeus’ sustainable solutions: 98 per cent of its disposable packaging spend is on sustainable products – be that recyclable, biodegradable or compostable. The food and beverage offering in NEC Group venues also supports local communities; 80 per cent of suppliers can be found within a 25-30 mile radius, and 60 per cent of these are small and medium-sized businesses. All food waste from the NEC is separated on site and taken four miles away to the Severn Trent Anaerobic Digestion Plant to be converter to fertilisers for the local land.