Back in 2013, resource-recovery business, Olleco, started a partnership with us, which has grown to be one of the most important and impactful relationships in HA’s history. To date Olleco have donated an incredible £111,000 to HA which has enabled us to help thousands of hospitality people in need over the years. We wanted to shine a light on this fantastic business who have a fantastic ethos towards the industry, the people working in it, and providing a sustainable future.

Who are Olleco, and what do you do?

Olleco is a company which is dedicated to creating a more sustainable world and restricting climate change to 1.5°c above pre-industrial levels. We’re the UK’s leading supplier of cooking oils and collector of used cooking oil and food waste. We partner with food companies of every size to help them embrace the circular economy by converting their waste resources into renewable green energy, biofuels and organic fertiliser. These are then used to: power food factories, local businesses and communities, fuel the logistics fleets supplying the food industry and to enable farmers to grow new crops more sustainably.

What prompted you to donate a percentage of your profits to HA?

As a company, we are committed to doing the right thing. Our ambitious, environmental goals depend heavily on people in the hospitality industry and it seemed only right that we should give something back. We know how demanding it is to work in hospitality and we are continually impressed by Hospitality Action’s work to support these people in the industry when they fall upon hard times.

How do you think the industry’s perceptions of mental health and illness have changed over the years?

Hospitality Action’s work and campaigns help people within the industry understand that their specific work pressures make them especially vulnerable to a range of mental health issues. By both highlighting and working to address these, HA has gone a long way to destigmatise them. Their programme to train Mental Health First Aiders helps people in the hospitality industry recognise the signs that someone may be experiencing a mental health issue. The courses cover really challenging areas and address some of the common misconceptions about suicide and self-harm. HA have also helped drive up awareness of the fact that mental health issues will affect one in four of us in the course of a year. Creating an atmosphere of non-judgemental support and reassurance to a person who is experiencing a mental health issue is the best way to assist their recovery.

Do you think the industry is becoming more environmentally aware as well as more focused on protecting its people?

The environmental impact of food production has generated a vast amount of discussion in the media. Naturally this has had a massive impact on both consumer attitudes to food and the approach of the industries that supply that food. Food waste is a huge contributor to climate change and Olleco has seen increasing numbers of customers reducing the food waste they produce and using our food waste collections to greatly reduce their carbon footprint. Ultimately, keeping global warming below 1.5°c is also about protecting people from life-threatening changes.

What changes do you hope to see to make the hospitality sector more environmentally sustainable over the next few years?

We’d like to see everyone in the hospitality industry reduce their food waste and ensure that the unavoidable food waste they do produce, is separated for collection. In landfill, food gives off methane, a greenhouse gas roughly 30 times more damaging than CO₂ and responsible for 25% of global warming. By sending food waste to an anaerobic digestion plant such as ours, you ensure that methane is captured and converted to green energy. Using a reputable used cooking oil collection will also ensure better environmental outcomes, used cooking oil shouldn’t be thrown into the drains to cause fatbergs when it can be collected and converted into biodiesel. Olleco’s biorefinery is configured to maximise the volume recovered producing a high-quality biodiesel which can reduce carbon emissions of food logistics by 86%.

How do your customers react to the knowledge that they’re supporting HA just by using your services?

We hope that it reassures customers that we will look out for them and that we’re a company that is committed to doing good in every way we can.

Olleco’s commitment to the wellbeing of the industry is core to their values as a business. Their work in effecting environmental behaviour change has given them an understanding of the important roles people across the industry need to play in order to make things happen. It has also earned them a place on the world environmental stage and they were placed second in the 2019 Circulars Awards at the world Economic forum in Davos. Their commitment to do the right thing permeates the entire company.

From back of house teams working hard to recover maximum economic and environmental values from natural resources, to senior managers who champion environmental priorities in an incredibly cost-aware market. They are active evangelists working to drive the changes vital to secure a sustainable future for our planet wherever we they can, whether that’s interacting with other individuals or lobbying governments to adopt more sustainable policies.

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