Wasting food is an environmental, moral and financial scandal, and has a huge impact on carbon emissions because of all the energy used in the production, transportation and processing of food. Each year, businesses in the UK throw away an estimated £5 billion worth of food.
There is a strong business case for tackling food waste. For every pound invested in measuring and reducing the food they throw away, businesses can expect to gain £14 pounds back on average.
How you can tackle food waste in your business
The food waste hierarchy is a helpful guide to managing your food waste. Its priority is on preventing food from becoming waste in the first place, and then on redistributing any edible surplus food to feed people.
All businesses are legally required to adopt the hierarchy for their food waste and to ensure it is passed to a registered waste carrier.
There are four main ways you can start tackling food waste in your business: reduce, redistribute, repurpose and recycle.
If food is consistently being leftover on plates, think about reducing portion sizes and asking customers if they’d like a doggy bag.
Go tray-less in your canteen to help prevent people taking more food than they can eat.
Brighton & Hove has a Surplus Food Network working to intercept surplus food from local businesses to redistribute to people in need. To get started on redistributing surplus food from your business or event, please see the network’s where to donate surplus food page and fill in the online donation enquiry form with details about your surplus.
Do you have any leftover food that could be used to make new products? For inspiration on how to take a circular economy approach to food waste, check out the following organisations:
Start a food waste recycling collection for your business. Some options include:
Paper Round offer collections of food waste, coffee grounds, Vegware (compostable), coffee cups (paper) and other recyclable materials, and can help with food waste audits.
Pale Green Dot brings together restaurants and local farms to grow exceptional produce in a natural and sustainable way, and collects and recycles multiple waste streams.
ORCA is an on-site waste digester which can be used as an alternative to the traditional truck and bin collection system.
Keep an eye out for BHESCo who are working with Paper Round to build a new anaerobic digester closer to Brighton and Hove.
Get involved with food waste campaigns
- WRAP’s Guardians of Grub campaign to inspire action across the hospitality and food service sector.
- Hubbub’s Plate Waste campaign which encourages positive behaviour change interventions.
- Take DEFRA’s Step Up to the Plate pledge.
- The Sustainable Restaurant Association and Just Eat have created specific guidelines for restaurants who may be experiencing an increase in food waste and are serious about fighting it.
Case studies of food businesses reducing their waste
- Sussex University– Reduced food waste by 70% by implementing the Winnow smart metering system. Watch their video to find out more. They also ran a plate waste campaign with Hubbub.
- Brighton & Hove City Council arranged food waste collections at five local large outdoor events to measure key factors in successful recycling of food waste
- The Harrington Arms
- Robinson’s brewery – Watch their video on how they measured their waste and what changes they made.
- Shilam Tandoori restaurant – Reduced waste by reviewing portion sizes and using doggy boxes.