Opinion

Turning food waste into extra cash

By Nick Burns

- Last updated on GMT

Waste management: Nick Burns from Robinsons Brewery explores the areas where pubs are wasting food, and money
Waste management: Nick Burns from Robinsons Brewery explores the areas where pubs are wasting food, and money
Nick Burns, food development manager at Robinsons Brewery, highlights how his company has tackled food waste and how pubs can convert it into extra cash.

Research has shown that each pub in Britain wastes an average of £8,000 on food waste each year.

The definition of such waste is food purchased by a pub or restaurant that has ultimately ended up in the bin – whatever path it has taken to get there.

Historically food waste has been hard to put a cash value on as, more often than not, wasted food ends up in a black bin bag and classed as 'unknown waste'.

Food waste can be categorised into three areas: spoilage waste, preparation waste and plate waste.

To start to tackle the issue, you first need to identify what food you are wasting and where it is being wasted. This can be done by placing three transparent 20-litre containers around your kitchen.

Spoilage waste

This is food that has either gone out of date or been ruined during the cooking process.

Placing all spoilage waste into a transparent container on a daily basis helps identify what is being spoiled.

This process changes chefs' behaviour and ordering patterns, ensuring no food items are over-ordered or over-produced and also encourages stock rotation.

Preparation waste

This is food that is a by-product of the preparation process such as potato peelings, pepper and onion ends, pastry offcuts, and so on.

Again, this encourages chefs to maximise the yield of all products during the preparation process, or even buy in ready-prepared items such as vegetables and potatoes.

It is a common myth that potato peelings are not waste but 10kg of peeled potatoes may return a yield of 8kg of potatoes, producing 2kg of waste.

Plate waste

This is any food that has been returned to the kitchen after the customer has finished dining.

This could be because of over-portioning, unnecessary plate components or poor quality food.

Again, if all the plate waste is scraped into a transparent container, you can easily visually identify what is not being eaten by the customer.

Unnecessary plate components may include such items as a garnish on a burger or tartare sauce on fish and chips that most customers may not want but is given to all carte blanche.

Once you have this information you can adjust your plate presentation accordingly.

Big returns of chips, for example, could indicate over-portioning.

Cooking oil management

The cost of cooking oil is significant to all kitchens. Two double fryers in a kitchen may contain 60 litres of cooking oil, and perfectly usable oil is frequently discarded.

Cooking oil should be changed when it needs changing rather than ‘every Tuesday’ by habit.

Cooking oil can also be filtered and skimmed, as well as the temperature down when not required which will also extend the life of the oil.

Waste oil collection

Almost two-thirds (65%) of all cooking oil that goes into the fryer is discarded. It is quite common nowadays for waste oil collectors to offer in the region of 25p per litre of all waste oil collected for use in bio diesel, which can generate a great income over a 12-month period.

Related topics: Health & safety

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