Food industry waste deal targets £45m in savings

A new voluntary agreement on food and packaging waste has been unveiled for the foodservice sector which aims to save over £45m and cut carbon by 342,000 tonnes.

The Hospitality and Foodservice Agreement launched today (June 27) by WRAP includes two targets. The first involves cutting food and packaging waste by 5% by 2015. The second will increase the overall rate of food and packaging waste that is being recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion or composted to 70% by 2015.

Some 69 companies and organisations have already signed up, representing 15% of the sector by turnover. WRAP estimates that if a quarter of the sector signs up, the savings could reach £76m by 2015 and cut 570,000 tonnes of carbon.

The hospitality sector currently produces 3.4m tonnes of waste, of which 48% is recycled, reused or composted. The targets are therefore considered as “challenging” according to the government quango behind the scheme.

WRAP has taken 12 months to design the agreement, using experience from the success of the Courtauld Commitment – a similar voluntary agreement on waste for the retail sector – and input from industry.

Speaking to edie, WRAP director Richard Swannell said that Courtauld has proved this kind of voluntary scheme can work and is optimistic that the hospitality agreement would be similarly successful.

“There really is an appetite to deliver on this and [for businesses to] get involved. The rationale for signing up is largely around cost savings. It costs about £100 a tonne to dispose of food, but there are the embedded costs too,” he said.

“The costs involved in manufacturing, transporting storing and preparing food put the [real cost] of throwing food away at £1,800 a tonne. This [kind of information] has helped focus the mind.”

Well-known high street chains such as Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s and Greggs , plus hotels including Glasgow’s Blythswood Square Hotel and Gleneagles Hotel are all supporting the scheme. Caterers including Sodexo and Compass have also signed up.

Some in the foodservice have already begun developing programmes to cut waste, which could be used as ‘best practice’ examples by WRAP.

Unilever Food Solutions, for instance, launched a ‘United Against Waste’ campaign last summer as well as a ‘wise up on waste’ toolkit to help food businesses monitor and cut their waste.

Smaller businesses are also profiting. The Six Bells pub in Hertfordshire, for example, has saved £20 a week on procurement simply by changing its salad garnish to one that costs less and more customers eat rather than leave on the plate.

Pressure from customers is expected to see more and more food businesses look to tackle waste. According to a study by Unilever Food Solutions last year, 40% of diners would pay more to eat in places that commit to cutting food waste. Some 30% also believe that it is the responsibility of caterers, not government, to tackle food waste.

edie staff

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