EXCLUSIVE: SMEs lack skills to create value from food waste

The SME hospitality sector is an untapped market for food waste offering potentially lucrative returns, but smaller food operators need better education on landfill diversion strategies.

Speaking to edie ahead of a corporate open day later this month, PDM Group’s commercial director Philip Simpson said that his business was investing heavily in treatment technologies for food waste and by-products from the food chain in preparation for high growth opportunities over the next five years.

He pointed to the hospitality and food service sector, in particular SMEs, as being in need of smarter recovery methods for their waste streams and that firms like his could help deliver these operational efficiencies.

“There is a requirement for behaviour change among businesses, particularly in this field, if they are to realise the benefits of switching from landfill to recovery,” he said.

Simpson added that while “the size of the prize in terms of food waste is huge”, as a company PDM Group is committed to pushing the benefits of prevention in line with the waste hierarchy.

“It might seem perverse that a food waste processing firm is asking customers to focus on prevention, but in reality taking this approach often results in businesses making more considered alternatives to landfill, one of which is better source segregation,” he explained.

Waste prevention is a key focus of the company’s Vision 2020 manifesto, launched two years ago, to encourage debate on how business, industry and government can best tackle the problem of food waste.

The latest thinking around Vision 2020 will be unveiled later in the year as PDM Group looks to establish itself as a thought leader in this field.

The company has embarked on a three-year £120m investment programme of infrastructure builds and refurbishments across its entire business portfolio which includes its food waste anaerobic digestion arm ReFood, its rendering division, fats and oils business Nortech Foods, and fish and chip shop chain, T. Quality.

Simpson said the fact that the company operates a diverse range of services for the food sector and collects from each part of the food chain puts it in a strong position to take a more holistic, integrated approach to resource management.

“We are seeing growing demand for our services and are committed to eradicating food waste from landfill in way that delivers significant cost savings for business,” he added.

Maxine Perella

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