Operators not working hard enough to reduce waste

RESTAURANTS OWNERS feel that food waste is an “inevitable part of the industry” and are not working hard enough to reduce waste. This is costing them significant sums of money.


That’s according to Mark Linehan, MD at the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), who was speaking June 4th, at an industry-wide event organised by Unilever Food Solutions. The event is part of UFS’s “United Against Waste” campaign, which aims to bring foodservice companies together to tackle food waste.


However, Linehan said that restaurants were struggling to come to terms with the scale of the problem and their attitude to waste is “totally different to other industries which work as hard as they can to eliminate waste”.


He explained: “Restaurants are literally throwing money away – they throw away 600,000 tonnes of food every year and two thirds [of that] is avoidable. That’s 21 tonnes per restaurant, or the equivalent to the weight of three double-decker buses.”


Significantly, this is 0.48kg per diner, or “up to five times as much as per person in the home”, he added.


According to the SRA’s research, consumers consider food waste a top priority, but this isn’t a view shared by restaurants, said Linehan. Last year, an online debate run by Footprint highlighted the “culture change” needed in the UK’s commercial kitchens to deal with the escalating problem of food waste.


WRAP estimates that UK hotels, pubs, restaurants and quick service restaurants produce 3.4 million tonnes of waste every year. Of the 1.5 million tonnes that ends up in landfill, 600,000 tonnes is food waste. Eliminating the avoidable fraction of this food waste could save the sector over £722 million per year.


At the event, UFS also launched the latest addition to its “Wise up on Waste” toolkit: a new app to help chefs reduce food waste. Though 800 businesses had downloaded the toolkit so far, that left 150,000 operators who hadn’t, said UFS.