24 February 2016

Serving up a new food waste solution

The annual cost of food waste in the UK’s hospitality and foodservice sector is set to reach £3bn this year.  According to the latest research findings from WRAP, one in six of the eight billion meals served throughout the hospitality sector each year is wasted and it’s estimated that 75% of this figure could be avoidable.

ReFood is a food waste recycling and waste management service that uses renewable energy to dispose of commercial food waste sustainably and their commercial director Philip Simpson said that challenges face the industry and businesses can recuperate losses through better reduction and recycling strategies.

The amount of food being wasted across the whole hospitality sector is a huge issue but also means that there is a significant opportunity for the food services industry to reduce its costs.  Even a 5% reduction in food waste has the potential to save the sector a total of £250m over two years, alongside reducing CO2 emissions by around 2.7 million tonnes.

Waste has the potential to be generated at each key stage of meal preparation and production. In a typical restaurant, for example, 45% of total food waste comes from preparation, 34% from consumer plates and 21% from spoilage.

Concerns have also been raised about the way that waste food is disposed of. Less than half of all food waste currently generated by the hospitality and food services sector is recycled.  A great deal of it is still being sent to landfill but this is not sustainable as the UK is likely to reach current landfill limits in around two years’ time.

ReFood currently help businesses in the hospitality and foodservice sector to recycle their food waste.  All types of food are turned into renewable resources, via anaerobic digestion (AD) including packaged items. The AD process harnesses the natural rotting of food by capturing the biogas produced and uses it to generate heat and renewable energy, both electricity and gas.  This is sent directly to the grid. Meanwhile, the resulting residue can be used as a sustainable fertiliser which enables beneficial nutrients to be retained and reinvested right back to the beginning of the food chain.

WRAP’s figures also show that more food waste is currently disposed of via sink disposal units (140,000 tonnes per year) than is sent to AD or composting (110,000 tonnes per year).  Businesses in the hospitality and food services sector could save as much as 46% on waste costs by diverting food from landfill into AD. ReFood currently produces enough renewable energy from waste to power 25,000 homes nationwide.

One example of a hospitality business successfully using a food waste recycling to deliver significant results is The Savoy in London. As one of the world’s most iconic hotels, when it comes to sustainable practices, The Savoy is also one of the best. Almost half a million meals are served in its restaurants each year, so an effective food waste strategy was an essential part of the hotel’s aim to be one of the most sustainable luxury hotels in London. Following a successful trial, ReFood’s food waste collection and recycling service was rolled out, contributing to a near perfect 100% waste diversion and recycling rate.  Testimony to this is the fact The Savoy has won an SRA award for ‘Best Food Waste Strategy.’

Both the Government and consumers alike are become increasingly concerned about the issue of food waste.  The hospitality and foodservice sector needs to take action now by implementing strategies to minimise and recycle food waste.  Waste reduction measures, such as streamlining menu choices and removing garnishes, combined with using a food waste collection and recycling service, addresses both sides of the problem and can help businesses to significantly reduce costs and protect their reputation.

Source: edie

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