Visit Cork and Local Authorities Launch “Waste Not, Want Not” Conference to Tackle Food Waste in Tourism Sector

Michelle Green, Cork County Council; Katherine Fitzpatrick, Visit Cork Sustainability Lead; Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Frank O'Flynn; Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Kieran McCarthy; Lorraine Leahy, Cork City Council, at the new Fota Wildlife Park Education Centre, venue for the upcoming 'Waste Not, Want Not' conference on 31st January.

In a collective effort to address and mitigate the impact of food waste within the tourism sector, Visit Cork, in collaboration with Cork County Council and Cork City Council, proudly announces the launch of the "Waste Not, Want Not" conference. The conference responds to the alarming statistic that more than one-quarter of the global food production is wasted, contributing significantly to climate change, with food loss and waste responsible for 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions.

This initiative, supported by funding from the Regional Waste Management Planning Offices’ "Green Hubs" Fund, aims to bring together stakeholders from the tourism and hospitality industry to share insights, expertise, and practical solutions for managing and reducing waste. Taking place on Wednesday January 31st at the newly established state-of-the-art Education, Conservation and Research Centre in Fota Wildlife Park, the half-day event will feature a comprehensive review of Visit Cork's plans and aspirations for the sector in 2024. 
Expert speakers will present valuable insights and practical advice on available resources to assist businesses in effectively monitoring and managing waste. Kenneth Lyons, co-host of 'The Green Room' radio show on sustainability, with a background in the hotel industry, will be the conference MC.

The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Frank O'Flynn said: 

This conference will not only focus on how to save money by reducing waste, but it will also be an opportunity for businesses in Cork’s vibrant tourism sector to speak to local support agencies and experts about their broader sustainability plans and ambitions, so they can better understand how they can play their part in supporting the circular economy and a more sustainable future.

Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Kieran McCarthy said: “The 'Waste Not, Want Not' conference underscores the shared commitment of Visit Cork and Cork’s two local authorities to championing sustainable tourism practices.  It also sets the stage for future collaborations and endeavours that link to Cork’s goal to become net zero in its carbon emissions. A key part of that journey is the delivery of responsible waste management strategies across many elements of society including sustainable tourism practices.”

Head of Visit Cork, Seamus Heaney, said: “The EPA estimates that Ireland generated 753,000 tonnes of food waste in 2021, with restaurants and food services generating approximately 189,000 tonnes (25% of total). This level of food waste is completely unnecessary and is avoidable through good food and waste management practices. In addition, the ‘Reducing Commercial Food Waste in Ireland’ report published in 2019, found that over 66% of food waste from the food services sector is avoidable. It found that hotels have the highest level of food waste and the annual cost of food waste to this sector is estimated to be in excess of €300 million. It is so important for the sector to realise that managing food waste is not only the right thing to do, but should also result in a cost saving. Our conference will help the tourism and hospitality industry to share ideas and learn from others who have successfully reduced their food waste.”

The "Waste Not, Want Not" conference is free to attend, but businesses must register in advance online due to limited spaces. There is also an option to make a donation to the Fota Wildlife Park conservation and education activities when booking. To register and access more information, please click the registration button below. 

Businesses are encouraged to visit website for resources on how to make changes, and to learn more about their obligations under national waste management legislation.