With one-third of all food in the world produced for human consumption going to waste, it is clear that food waste has become a global issue. If you were to look at the combined amount of food waste in the United States and Europe alone, it could feed the world three times over.
When you waste food, you are wasting the resources that went into growing and producing it. It is estimated that 1.4 billion hectares of land (28% of the total global agricultural area) and over a quarter of the world’s water supply is used to plant, grow and produce food that is later wasted.
Not only could our food waste go to better use and feed undernourished people around the world, but it is also causing the emission of harmful greenhouse gases, with food production being one of the biggest emitters. These gases are mostly caused by the energy used to grow, harvest, transport, process and prepare food. Food waste leads to the generation of nearly 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. If we stopped wasting perfectly good food that can be eaten, it could immensely lessen CO2 emissions. This could be the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road in the UK.
Additionally, when food is disposed of irresponsibly, for example when it is sent to landfill sites, it releases methane into the atmosphere. According to National Geographic, compared to carbon dioxide, methane is a greenhouse gas which has more than 28 times the global warming potential on a 100-year timeline and is more than 80 times more powerful over 20 years. This later leads to a multitude of health issues related to air pollution. High levels of air pollution have even been linked to conditions such as asthma, heart and lung disease, frail bones, dementia and bladder cancer.
What can your business do to help? Luckily, there are some food waste reduction measures you can take to lessen your impact on the environment.
Helping businesses: WRAP’s ‘Guardians of Grub’ campaign
It has been over a year since the launch of WRAP’s Guardians of Grub food waste reduction campaign – aimed at tackling the £3 billion worth of food wasted in the hospitality and food service sector (hotels, restaurants, pubs). This sector is one of the biggest culprits for generating food waste. Restaurants and pubs account for 372,000 tonnes of food waste per year and hotels generate 79,000 tonnes annually.
The ultimate goal of this campaign is to reduce food waste across the sector by 100,000 tonnes per year by 2025.
The Guardians of Grub campaign is suitable for anyone working in the hospitality and food service industry, from Michelin star restaurants to small pubs. Thanks to WRAP’s free resources, businesses across the sector can fight against food waste with the help of checklists, food tracking sheets, posters, food calculators, and so much more.
With this guidance, businesses can review the amount of food thrown away and create an action plan for ordering, storing, preparing and serving food more efficiently. These resources promote best practices on food waste prevention which can easily be incorporated across your business. It takes a lot of time and resources to produce food, and when less quality food is thrown away, it means more profit and reduced operational costs for businesses.
What other ‘Guardians of Grub’ resources can you use to get started on reducing food waste across your business?
- Campaign resource guide: this offers resources to help you publicise that you are a ‘Guardian of Grub’ and encourage others to join your efforts in protecting and saving food.
- Operational resources: this includes a quickstart guide to reducing food waste and a poster on the different ways to save food.
- Tracking calculator: this allows you to track how much food is going to waste in your business. It will then automatically calculate how much in terms of cost is going to waste as well as where you could be making significant savings.
- Making a business case (presentation template): this presentation template can be used to present a business case about the benefits of reducing food waste across your business.
Top tips: how to reduce your food waste
By following WRAP’s campaign and becoming a ‘Guardian of Grub’, you are taking the necessary steps as a business to reduce food waste. In addition to the above-mentioned resources, here are some simple tips to get started:
- Look beyond best before dates. When food is stored correctly, it could be eaten days, weeks, months or even years after expiration dates depending on the food product
- Track and measure food waste in your organisation to figure out which food items are being put to waste and how often
- Take stock and track how much food you are ordering to avoid buying more than what is necessary
- Use food to its full value, such as using every part of a pig or chicken for meals
- Preserve food to give it a longer life (such as freezing or drying)
- Follow WRAP’s national food waste programs for expertise and guidance on your food waste habits
How your business can dispose of food waste
With Commercial Waste Services, your food waste can be collected via a dedicated food waste collection service. For hygiene reasons, food waste has to be stored and collected in bins, which we have available for you in a variety of shapes and sizes. When left on the street in bags, it can attract vermin and lead to leaks, bad smells, and cause staining on the pavement in front of your business. Food waste is the main cause of contamination in other recycling streams, so it is important to make sure that it is properly segregated into your designated bin.
More specifically when it comes to animal by-products and catering waste, there are different regulations to take into consideration. According to Animal By-Product Regulations (ABPR), it is a legal requirement to keep raw meat, fish and poultry waste separate when it is thrown away.
Animal By-Products waste (ABP) cannot be disposed of as general commercial waste and it must never re-enter the food supply chain. This includes animal carcasses, parts of animals, or other materials which come from animals but are not meant for humans to eat. It also includes catering waste (leftover food) produced by restaurants, takeaways, canteens and other food businesses. Failure to handle animal by-products correctly can lead to enforcement action being taken by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) or Westminster City Council.
How do you handle and store your ABP waste correctly? Make sure to:
- Store waste in durable lidded containers
- Present ABP waste in our special food waste bins for collection
- Keep waste storage areas and bins clean
- Store waste bins away from food handling areas
- Clearly label internal bins designated for ABP waste
Make sure to download your copy of our animal by-products guide to discover everything you need to know about handling ABPs and catering waste for your business.
Considering food waste is such a valuable resource, we ensure that all of the food waste we collect is sent for treatment in an anaerobic digestion facility where it is processed and turned into fertiliser for farms and renewable energy (biogas). Every year the food waste we deliver for treatment produces enough fertiliser to grow the wheat needed for 580,000 loaves of bread.
If you are ready to learn more about recycling and how your business can improve the way it handles its food waste, we have created a recycling guide for you. This guide explains how to identify your waste streams (including how to segregate, store and handle them), what recycling services are available to you and the importance of ensuring your waste collector offers you a flexible solution.