Huge savings identified for restaurants tackling food waste

15th February 2019

Web food waste shutterstock 1156496236

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  • Food and drink ,
  • Waste ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management


Ceri Sansom

Restaurants could save £7 for every £1 they invest in reducing the amount of food waste they produce in their kitchens, a first-of-its-kind study has found.

After studying 114 restaurants across 12 countries, the researchers found that nearly all had enjoyed a positive return on their food waste investments over one year.

Measuring and monitoring waste, redesigning menus and training staff on the food handling and storage procedures were some of the types of investments made.

The average return of £7 for every £1 spent came from the restaurants buying less food, developing new meals from leftovers, and lower waste management costs.

Dave Lewis, chair of the Champions 12.3 group, which published the research and is named after the UN's Sustainable Development Goal to halve food waste by 2030, said restaurants have a vital role to play in achieving the target.

“These findings make it crystal clear that reducing food waste isn't just the right thing to do, it's also the smart business move,“ he continued.

“The only way we can halve food waste by 2030 is if restaurants and other businesses along the supply chain step up their action. Every part of the food industry has a responsibility to reduce food waste.“

Ranging from annual food sales of $400,000 (£312,000) to $17.3m, the restaurants studied managed to cut their food waste by an average of 26% over one year, with 75% recouping their investment.

Every site was able to keep their investment below $20,000, which the researchers said shows how significant benefits can be made at a low cost.

They recommend that restaurant owners take a “target, measure and act“ approach, first assessing the food being wasted so they know where to prioritise efforts.

Restaurants should then engage staff, re-think their inventory and purchasing practices, reduce overproduction, and then re-purpose excess food.

This comes after UN research found that around one-third of all food produced is never eaten, with food waste responsible for $940bn in economic losses and 8% of annual greenhouse gas emissions.

“Businesses big and small can save money, motivate staff, and impress their customers through reducing food waste. It's a win-win for the economy, and the environment,“ said Marcus Gover, chief executive of WRAP.

Image credit: iStock


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