Hospitality sector looking at its own AD plant

THE HOSPITALITY sector could have its own dedicated anaerobic digestion (AD) plant to take food waste. It’s just one of a number of options being considered as part of a sector-wide analysis of food waste.


The Hospitality Carbon Reduction Forum, which has 12,000 restaurant and pub members, has found that more than half the food waste created by the hospitality sector ends up in landfill because there are no AD plants to send it to. This is costing companies thousands in landfill taxes and wasting food that could have been used to generate energy. The 200,000 Tonnes of food waste generated annually by the forum’s members could provide enough electricity to power 20,000 homes a year.


With a voluntary agreement on waste also now in place across the hospitality and foodservice sectors, forum members are looking to collaborate to find the most effective commercial solutions to ensure more food waste is sent to AD.


In Scotland, where there is new legislation to separate food waste for diversion away from landfill next year, there is an even more pressing need for the hospitality and waste sectors to work together.


Carbon management company, Carbon Statement, has been commissioned to come up with the plan to help save businesses money and meet the targets set by WRAP.


Having mapped all members’ sites across the UK against existing and planned AD capacity to optimise the waste collection process and to consider the siting of new AD plants, it is clear that “there is little co-ordination between the supply of food waste, collection and the positioning of sites” said Carbon Statement’s Peter Charlesworth.


However, he said the industry has “a great opportunity to collaborate to improve efficiencies of collection and benefit from volume deals with the food waste to energy companies. These benefits include removing landfill charges, reducing backhauling and transportation costs and associated carbon emissions while earning money from generating energy,” he added.


Charlesworth said he is in talks with the industry on behalf of Nando’s, Hammerson, Mitchells & Butlers and other hospitality forum members to evaluate the most cost effective range of commercial options. These include backhauling food waste direct to an existing AD plant; using one waste contractor with a network of AD facilities; building a dedicated new AD plant for hospitality forum members and food waste incineration with independent collection.


The Whitbread Group already recycles its restaurant food waste to support its zero waste to landfill targets, so “the introduction of back hauling initiatives and opportunities are interesting to explore alongside the benefits and best practice of industry collaboration”, said head of energy and environment Chris George.


The hospitality and foodservice waste agreement aims to cut food and associated packaging waste by 5% (a reduction of 234,000 tonnes of carbon), or the equivalent of approximately 100 million meals. It also aims to increase the overall rate of food and packaging waste that is being recycled, sent to AD or composted to 70% (a carbon reduction of 336,000 tonnes). Both targets will use a 2012 baseline and be monitored annually. This summer the baseline and interim targets will be set with the aim to achieve the targets by 2015.