Last week, Ben Elliot, the government’s food surplus and waste champion, told a room of operators in the hospitality trade that they “need to stick their hands up and say what they’re doing to tackle food waste”. As reported in The Caterer: Elliot described the UK’s food waste production as a “national disgrace”, and continued to say that “businesses need to take action to minimise it and to be transparent.” The waste champion said operators have been receptive to his message seeing that it makes sense both financially and commercially… and further that “If organisations of scale don’t get on with making those commitments of reducing food waste, then Environment Secretary Michael Gove is minded to regulate.”
Food Waste: Bad Taste
Elliot was speaking at the Montague on the Gardens hotel in London’s Bloomsbury to mark the launch of the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s (SRA) six-week online programme Food Waste: Bad Taste to help businesses make marked, measurable inroads into reducing their food waste.
The programme is described as the first online impact programme designed to encourage foodservice to meet both national and international food waste reduction targets.
As set out in an article in Food Matters – the programme supports businesses by asking the right questions and building the right team at the start, holding their hands through a two-week baselining period, guiding them through setting ambitious, but measurable and meaningful targets and importantly inspiring them with actions that deliver results. An online platform will be available to enable participants to share successes and helping each other to overcome challenges along the way, while the SRA team will also be on hand to deliver expert advice.
Operators can sign up for the programme or find out more about how to start tackling their food waste here.
Step up to the Plate
Earlier this month, the government launched its ‘Step up to Plate’ initiative. The pledge, which can be found by following this link, contains a number of commitments including:
|Commitment 1: Target Measure Act||My food business will set a food waste reduction target for our own UK operations, measure in a consistent way and share what we have learnt, and take action to reduce our own food waste, adopting the WRAP and IGD Food Waste Reduction Roadmap. If I am a Hospitality and Food Service business I will amplify WRAP’s Guardians of Grub campaign, and embed the campaign into my organisation’s plans. As a non-food business I will set an internal food waste target and take action. For tips and tools see the Love Food Hate Waste website|
|Commitment 2: Collaborate on tackling citizen food waste||My organisation will work with WRAP to share data from existing interventions and/or pilot new Behaviour Change Interventions. My organisation will tie in new and existing announcements and activities into the Food Conversation week in November, to raise the profile of food waste prevention and accelerate serious action. My organisation will tailor WRAP/partner developed consumer messaging to resonate with our customers and underpin our own activities during the Food Conversation week, creating a consistent narrative for citizens. My marketing team will work closely with WRAP in order to develop activity to provide ongoing support to Love Food Hate Waste and for the Food Conversation week.|
Anyone can sign up to the ‘Step up to the Plate pledge’ through sending a signed copy of the pledge to email@example.com
Food waste is very much in the cross hairs of the government’s environmental policies with businesses being targeted to take action. There is a plethora of statistics that explain why, including:
- Food waste in the UK totals 10.2 million tonnes per year, of which 1.8 million tonnes comes from food manufacture, 1 million from the hospitality sector, and 260,000 from retail, with the remainder from households.
- Businesses throw away food worth an estimated £5 billion and £15 billion is wasted from our homes (on average around £500 a year), the emissions this creates is the equivalent of every third car on the road. We simply must put an end to this.
As part of the PKF Francis Clark food & drink sector team, I have a keen interest in issues affecting the industry. Tackling the food waste issue makes sense not only from an environmental point of view, but economically too. As accountants and business advisers, our advice is always to control those costs you can control and building a successful business is often based on making marginal (or indeed not so marginal) gains where you can. Tackling food waste in your business is an obvious example of this strategy.
By Andrew James