To celebrate becoming UKSSD’s 100th Partner, we ask Mike Hanson, Head of Sustainable Business at BaxterStorey, what the Sustainable Development Goals mean to their business, the opportunity for the food service and hospitality sector, and why they’ve joined UKSSD

Mike Hanson headshotWhy do the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) appeal to you?

The SDG’s provide me with a clear way to show the interconnectivity between each of our business functions and the daily impact they can have on people and planet. While we can show all the great work being done around the SDG’s, the framework gives our business direction and focus to develop our sustainable business strategy, now and into the future.

Attending the edie Sustainability Leaders group events which focused specifically on the SDG’s was a real eye opener. It became clear that there was a huge opportunity for BaxterStorey to align its sustainable business efforts to the SDG’s – and play a significant part in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

What do the SDGs mean for BaxterStorey?

The SDG’s help us demonstrate to our teams that every activity in our business has a part to play in helping us to be a sustainable business. 

We are working hard to minimise our environmental impact, particularly within the communities in which we work. With the support of our people, customers, clients and suppliers, we are progressing from mapping our current activity across all 17 goals, to setting targets to help us embed the goals further into the culture of our business. 

Some of the current activities that support the SDGs include: 

1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

We’re working with several social enterprises across London including Brigade, House of St Barnabas and Refettorio Felix. We also run volunteering projects for our support offices, have our Growing Talent programme (holistic into work programme) and the BaxterStorey Foundation, which includes 1p from every cup of coffee sold across our business being donated to charity.

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

We have a decentralised supply chain meaning our focus is always on fresh seasonal food locally sourced. We partner with many industry schemes including Adopt a School programme and Magic Breakfast to promote improved nutrition and educate the next generation. As well as our key partnership with Forum for the Future on Protein Challenge 2040 and Peas Please with the Food Foundation, lobbying for balanced sustainable diets. 

Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

As part of the WSH Limited group, we have pledged alongside our sister companies Benugo and Portico, to procure 100% renewable energy by 2020. I am also a Board member of ADBA (which supports the anaerobic digestion industry) where we are looking at initiatives such as carbon offsets for fleet and business travel; and solar cook stoves in remote areas of China.

What’s the greatest opportunity you see for your sector if it delivers commitments reflective of the SDGs?

The most significant opportunity we have in the foodservice and hospitality sector is to affect change through sustainable diets. Food production, transportation, consumption and disposal impacts virtually every goal, to a greater or less extent. Hospitality and foodservice plays a massive part in the UK & wider global economy, so driving systemic change in the global food system is absolutely within our gift. We touch millions of customers every day, so we have the opportunity, and indeed moral obligation, to educate and influence.

In your opinion, if we could work together to do one thing that might create the transformation or systemic change needed to deliver the SDGs across the UK what would it be?

In my view the most powerful thing we could achieve would be to continue to lobby the Government and Parliament to create a Department for Sustainable Development with ministers and a Cabinet post! Currently, all the departments that need to play a role in the SDGs in the UK are siloed; DFID, Defra, BEIS, DWP, DOH, DOE, Treasury, Home Office etc. The SDGs need to be tackled holistically and a newly formed Department for Sustainable Development could be that catalyst for change and help drive the agenda’s through each department.

Finally, why did you decide to become a Partner of UKSSD and what do you hope to achieve?

Hospitality and foodservice play a huge role in the UK and wider global economy, our sector impacts almost all the 17 goals. BaxterStorey works with over 400 clients, serving over one million meals per day. As one of the innovators in our sector when it comes to sustainability, we have the opportunity to influence our clients, customers, competitors and colleagues in other businesses to help develop understanding and drive systemic change. Being a partner of UKSSD is an opportunity for us to learn from others and be part of a bigger movement, driving change towards making the planet a more sustainable place for future generations.

Mike Hanson is Head of Sustainable Business at BaxterStorey. To see how our Partners are supporting the SDGs in the UK visit their Partner profiles.