With the sustainability movement continuing to impact the food and drink industry, reducing waste is more important than ever before. Lots of businesses are setting off on the right track to sustainability, but that track shouldn’t stop at reusable containers and recycling plastic!
Food waste is a huge damaging factor that comes with the food industry, in fact, an enormous 41% of waste from UK pubs, restaurants & hotels is food waste - that equivalates to around 600,000 tonnes a year! Want to know something even worse? Around 400,000 of those tonnes are avoidable, so not only is it damaging the environment, it’s reducing profits for food businesses too! Reducing food waste goes hand-in-hand with reducing costs, and reports even show that restaurants could make a profit of £7 for every £1 they invest in cutting waste - so let’s see how it can be done.
The first step to reducing your waste is discovering what, and how much you’re wasting to start with. Some sort of food log system would be the best way to do this, so you and your staff can keep track of how much food is being thrown away and why. It’s also worth recording how much waste is coming from your consumers too, for example, if someone’s eyes are bigger than their belly, the likelihood is that there will be a lot left on their plate when it’s returned to you! Although this is far more difficult for you to control, it’s definitely meaningful to know.
Evaluating your inventory allows you to review how much food sits around in storage for long periods of time, this will signal whether you need to reduce your stock order. For example, did you know that around 900,000 perfectly edible meals end up in the bin every day because they haven't been sold? Shocking right?! Stock taking not only prevents you from having too much of something, but it will help to maximise shelf life as ingredients are less likely to go bad before you get the chance to use them. This will contribute toward your profits as you’re spending less money on orders, and throwing less ‘gone off’ food away.
It’s important to put measures into place to ensure your staff are conscious of waste and how much ingredients cost. Train them on how to tackle cooking oil waste, alongside how to be concise and not over generous when it comes to food prep (to help reduce the waste of perfectly good ingredients). Make sure you work with your chefs to find ways of utilising any spare ingredients that would have usually been thrown out too - for example putting them all in a soup, or making one-off chef specials. This is a perfect way to boost profits as you’re changing those leftover ingredients into revenue.
A large amount of food waste from food establishments actually comes from consumers themselves in the form of food that they pay for, but don’t eat. This may seem a little out of your control, however it’s crucial that you’re recording how much is thrown out. If extensive numbers of customers cannot eat your portion sizes, then reduce them. You can use a portion scale or spoon to help, but don’t be too stingy - guests still expect great value for money!
Composting is a simple practice that not many food establishments put into place - but it’s perfect for ridding your uncontrollable food waste in an eco-friendly way! If you don’t have the facilities or room to compost on site, there are many composters out there who will take your scraps.
Reducing food waste in restaurants or catering establishments really can be done - take IKEA for example. They have announced that in two years they’ve managed to prevent more than 3 million meals from being tossed out since focusing on reducing their food waste!
We’re just as passionate about sustainability and reducing waste in the food industry to create a positive impact on the environment, which is why we’ve launched an all-new feature at our 2019 expo - the Sustainability Trail! If you offer eco-friendly waste management solutions for the food and drink industry, or would like to connect with people that do, find out more about the Restaurant & Takeaway Innovation Expo and get involved!
Next Read: Sustainable Start-Ups - Changing Our World