Pub chefs must do more to tackle food waste: SRA

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

The equivalent of 1.3bn meals are thrown away by the sector each year
The equivalent of 1.3bn meals are thrown away by the sector each year

Related tags: Food waste, Anaerobic digestion, Waste management

Tackling food waste must be given more focus by pub chefs to help save their businesses money and benefit the environment, a spokesman from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) has urged.

More than eight billion meals are served by hospitality and foodservice outlets annually, according to figures from the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

Yet, the equivalent of 1.3bn meals are thrown away by the sector each year, costing outlets an average of £10,000 annually.

It was likely most pub chefs were unaware of how much food they were wasting, as many believed they didn’t have a food waste problem, the spokesman told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​.

“That’s usually the thing about food waste,” he said. “Most people don’t understand they’ve got a problem and when we asked businesses if they wanted to get involved with our Food Save project, they said no because they didn’t tend to think they had a problem.”

150 tonnes of food waste

SRA spokesman

It was only when we started to do this that the chefs realised how bad their food waste problem was

  • Source: ​SRA

The Food Save project ran from October 2013 to March 2015 and aimed to divert over 150 tonnes of food waste from landfill and save businesses on the project more than £350,000 in costs associated with waste disposal.

Detailed audits of food waste were carried out on the businesses that took part, which included working out the cost of ingredients, weighing kitchen food waste and recording what was being thrown out.

“It was only when we started to do this that the chefs realised how bad their food waste problem was,” the spokesman said.

Following the research, some food businesses started to make use of foods that would otherwise be thrown away, he added.

For example, one outlet now had potato peel soup on its menu, which was a popular addition. “Another saved lemon peel and used it for its pectin to make jelly,” the spokesman said.

Majority of food waste

The majority of food wasted in the sector was in kitchens (45%) with 34% coming from customers’ plates and 21% from spoiled food, according to WRAP data.

However, businesses could make a big impact on these percentages and limit the amount they sent to landfill using four steps, according to WRAP.

Preventing food waste – by better planning – offered the greatest benefits, it said. Reusing products that would otherwise be discarded would also be beneficial. Recycling food waste by using it to generate energy through anaerobic digestion or even composting it was better than sending it to landfill.

Incinerating food waste to generate energy was also a better than sending unused food to landfill.

Disposal – incinerating without energy recovery – sending waste to landfill and flushing waste or ingredients into the sewer system was a last resort, it added.

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