The UK food waste

Those that are working in the catering and hospitality sector should have an effective waste management strategy in place to ensure they’re fulfilling the duty of care requirements set out by the UK government.

The aim of all businesses is to make a profit in order to operate. Eager entrepreneurs will have second thoughts on the importance of implementing a waste management strategy; but this can in fact help them save money in the long run, which is vital for anyone working in the hospitality sector. 

If you use a waste management company, then you’ll receive insightful information in regard to the type of waste you’re producing. Not only that, the waste management contractor you sign up with will be able to draw up a profile of your business and calculate the amount of waste your company generates — which can be beneficial in terms of waste collection timings.

With food waste becoming a huge epidemic in the UK, we investigate how much was different types of business in this industry are producing and how much it is costing them annually whilst taking a look at some historical data.

Restaurants, Pubs and Hotels waste

For restaurants across the country, waste is a key focus and costs the sector £682 million annually. Although this price includes food procurement, labour, utilities and waste management costs — this can still accumulate for £3,500 for each tonne.

There are over 25% of food waste that is unavoidable however, around 20% comes from potatoes and 16% from fruit and vegetables. The smallest amount of food waste from restaurants is generated by whole servings and dairy products.

There are a variety of finance implications that a business could face when it comes to food waste. The average cost of avoidable food waste to a restaurant is £0.97 per meal. This is something that restaurants must have a focus on, as they are responsible for 9% of the meals served in Britain annually — equivalent to 704 million meals.

The restaurant sector is producing 915,400 tonnes of waste each year and 199,100 of it is accounted for by food waste.

It’s constant battle for pubs with the amount of waste they produce and it’s costing the sector £357 million every year. Similar to restaurants, this price includes costs of labour, food procurement and waste management costs but can still equate to £2,100 per tonne.

The consumption of food waste in Britain comes mostly from unavoidable food waste which again is over 25%. Similar to restaurants, potatoes were the second largest contributor to food waste in pubs with over 20%, and fruit and veg over 15%.

Food waste on average, will cost a pub around £8,000 each year, with the cost of avoidable food waste working out at around £0.41 per meal. Out of 871 million meals, pubs in the UK are responsible for serving 11% of all meal eaten 0 equating to around 871 million meals.

873,000 tonnes of waste in total is generated by pubs on an annual basis – 173,000 tonnes of it being food waste.

A lot of food waste in generated within the hotel sector – with internal restaurants, room service and in-room snack available. The cost of food waste in hotels each year accounts for £318 million, which also includes labour, food procurement and waste management costs. However, this is broken down to £4,000 per tonne.

Unavoidable food waste is the biggest cost which is above 35%. This is followed by potatoes, which is at 20%, and fruit and vegetables accounting for a total of 15%.

The costs of unavoidable food waste to hotels is on average £0.52 for every meal served. . Considering that 8% of all meals are eaten out in the UK — equivalent to 611 million meals — this is a huge amount to pay.

Figures show that 289,700 tonnes is produced each year, with 79,000 of that coming from food waste.

How to calculate your own waste
There are various of methods you can use to calculate the amount of waste you produce before getting a waste management organisation involved. Start by distributing your waste into different sections and this will allow you to have a visual insight into the types of waste you’re producing.

Then with the use of 3 different bins collect the appropriate data on food preparation, spoilage and leftovers that come in from your customers plates. Use the data you have collected and multiply this figure by the amount it costs per tonne and this will tell you how much it is costing your business each year.

The majority of food waste comes from:

  • Food preparation – 45%.
  • Spoilage – 21%.
  • Customer plates – 34%.

If you’re in the hospitality sector and looking to reduce amount of food waste your business produces, there are a number of methods you can take to achieve this. If you find that your menu size is quite large, you will find yourself buying a lot of ingredients which could go to waste if no one orders certain meals. To combat this, monitor the type of food being ordered in your restaurant and this will give you the knowledge on what dishes you can remove from your menu.

You might want to work out whether your portion sizes are too big, which in that case, reducing them in size can lead to less waste from your customers. It could also be a good idea to buy long-lasting ingredients that are vital in your kitchen and can be used across different dishes, such as spices; it’s only important to buy fresh food only as you need.

To help better the environment and give back to your community, any food waste should be donated to homeless shelters or to a local farm — where unused waste can be fed to the animals.

The Government’s plan for business waste
The UK has a goal to become a country that produces zero waste and with that – Prime Minister Theresa May has recently pledged to eliminate plastic waste by 2042 with a goal to protect the environment.  For those in hospitality, this will mean there will be a greater scope on how we reduce, reuse and recycle and highlight that we only throw away as a last resort.

With a better focus on waste, catering and hospitality, businesses must implement appropriate ways to store waste correctly before it leaves the premises. Once stored, you must produce a waste transfer note for each load that is planned to be removed from your premises. It’s your duty to ensure that your waste carrier is registered with the appropriate authorities to dispose waste, and if they aren’t you must not use them.

Try calculating how much waste your catering business is producing — then witness rapid results when you make the appropriate changes.

This article was brought to you by Reconomy, which offers skip hire services across the UK.