Waste agreement published

A NEW VOLUNTARY agreement for the foodservice sector has been published.


Businesses signing up to the ‘Hospitality and Foodservice Agreement’ will be required to cut their waste and divert more of what’s left to recycling, composting and anaerobic digestion (AD) than landfill.


The 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).


So far, 69 businesses have backed the agreement, including Sodexo, BaxterStorey, Compass, Domino’s Pizza, Unilever Food Solutions and Greggs. This represents 15% of the sector by turnover, according to WRAP. If 25% sign up, WRAP has estimated there to be cost savings of £76million by the end of 2015 and a reduction in carbon emissions by 570,000 tonnes.


Organisations that opt to sign up either do so as signatories or supporters, depending on their role within the sector. In general a business signatory is an organisation that produces and serves their customer a meal or snack. Meanwhile, a supporter is an organisation that works within the sector but is not delivering that meal or snack directly to a customer.


Signatories report directly against the two main targets, while supporters will be required to help “deliver change”. Among the supporters signed up are 14 UK government departments, Scottish, and Welsh governments who will all be asked to encourage their own caterers to cut waste. WRAP said the role of the supporters was critical – feedback from the cost sector has highlighted plenty of potential for increased recycling provided facilities were available on location.


Some have raised questions about the targets and whether they are tough enough. However, WRAP – the Waste and Resources Action Programme and the organisation tasked with leading the agreement – is confident that this is an agreement that the sector will back, and one which will provide rewards.


Speaking to FoodserviceFootprint.com before the launch, WRAP director Richard Swannell was full of optimism. “There really is an appetite to deliver on this and get involved. This has been developed closely with the industry over the past 12 months, which has created buy-in and allowed innovation. There are some great initiatives out there already.”


Swannell urged more businesses to sign up and highlighted the cost savings of cutting waste. He added: “It costs about £100 a tonne to dispose of food, but there are the embedded costs too. The costs involved in manufacturing, transporting storing and preparing food put the [real cost] of throwing food away at £1,800 a tonne. This [kind of information] has helped focus the mind.”


WRAP predicts that if just a quarter of the sector, by turnover, to sign up, they can save up to £76 million by the end of 2015, and reduce their carbon impact by 570,000 tonnes.


Fairmont St Andrews, an early signatory to the scheme, is already showing what can be achieved with a “sensible approach” to waste and energy management having saved the hotelier £209,000 over four years.


WRAP will work across the sector to promote good practice and provide businesses with support to equip them to make changes happen through online tools, workshops, working groups and expert advice.


The agreement will be overseen by a Steering Group. This will be announced next month and will comprise of both signatories and supporters.