Contract caterer Compass plans 10% food waste cut by 2020

British contract foodservice firm Compass Group has pledged to reduce food waste by 10% by 2020 as part of the company's commitment to become a "truly sustainable business".

The pledge, measured on a 2016 baseline, was announced yesterday (26 January) as part of Compass’ latest CSR report. The document also outlines plans to source only certified sustainable palm oil in specified categories by the end of this year, and to ensure all tea, coffee and hot chocolate is ethically sourced by 2020.

“Our corporate responsibility programme guides our business and we’re committed to playing our part in creating a sustainable future and making a positive social impact,” Compass Group UK & Ireland managing director Dennis Hogan said. 

“While we’ve already accomplished a great deal, we recognise there’s still more we can undertake to ensure we’re a truly sustainable business. I’m confident we’ll succeed with the support of our colleagues, our consumers and our partners.”

‘Marker in the sand’

A cross-sector collaborative approach is central to Compass’ ambition to reduce food waste. The contract caterer has partnered with smart tech start-up Winnow to tackle the issue, using Winnow’s ‘smart meter’ system to help chefs measure and analysis the food they put in the bin. The data collected from an electronic scale has already helped to halve waste in a pilot project, according to Compass, which aims to introduce it at 500 sites across the country in 2017.

Compass, which made an annual revenue of £19.6bn last year, also sends in-date surplus food products to food charity FareShare, and estimates that since 2014 it has provided almost 40 tonnes, enough to make around 95,000 meals. The firm has also partnered with Simply Cups to recycle paper cups into new products, as part of an overarching plan to move paper and plastic disposables up the waste hierarchy.

A commitment to reduce its environmental impact is a key policy for Compass, which gained accreditation to the ISO 14001 certification in 2010. The firm has committed to reduce both the carbon emissions and use of fresh water in its offices by 20% between 2008 and 2017. Meanwhile, the average CO2 emissions per car has dropped 16% from 2011, thanks primarily to the introduction of ultra-low carbon diesel trucks into the vehicle fleet.

Incorporated within the report is Compass’ health strategy, which details the aim to remove 40 million calories from the company’s meals between 2016 and 2020, in addition to plans to launch a new health website in 2017 to educate consumers.

Compass Group’s head of corporate responsibility Duncan Gray commented: “Our corporate responsibility report is a marker in the sand, outlining key commitments for our business over the coming years. The content of this Report is the culmination of the hard work which has taken place in our organisation to be an ethical and transparent business. I’m confident that as our business continues to grow, so will our list of corporate responsibility achievements.”

Under the spotlight

The latest pledges from Compass will help to tackle an endemic food waste problem in the hospitality and foodservice sector, with the annual cost reaching an estimated £3bn last year. Compass is a member of the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement (HaFSA), created by WRAP in 2013 as part of a pledge to reduce food waste in the sector by 5% by 2015.

The company has also signed up to WRAP’s voluntary Courtauld Commitment 2025 – which seeks to reduce the resource intensity of Britain’s food and drink sector by 20%. Signatories of the flagship Commitment have this month unveiled a new ambition to double the amount of surplus food that is redistributed across the UK.

The main focus for businesses must now shift to the consumer waste conundrum, with recent figures estimating that household food waste has fact risen by 0.3 million tonnes in three years. The issue was tackled in a parliamentary debate last week, as members of the Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee grilled the major UK supermarkets on the role of retailers in reducing household food waste.

George Ogleby

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