Hospitality industry urged to focus on recycling food waste

Hospitality businesses across the UK should be recycling surplus food, as a new report reveals the sector is set to spend an extra £32m sending food waste to landfill this year.

The report carried out by food waste recycler ReFood claims that, while achieving zero food waste to landfill remains a ‘big challenge’, it is achievable for hotels, restaurants and pubs.

“Food waste is a valuable resource and one we shouldn’t be leaving to rot in landfill sites,” said ReFood’s commercial director Phillip Simpson. “With annual rises in landfill tax, separating food waste for recycling makes sound and long-term economic, as well as environmental, sense.”

According to latest figures, the UK’s 260,000 hospitality and catering outlets produce around four million tonnes of food waste each year. But ReFood believes that, through improved planning, portioning, management, storage and preparation, almost two thirds of that waste could instead be sold and eaten.

Moreover, the firm estimates that recycling food waste via anaerobic digestion could now be up to 45% cheaper than sending it to landfill, as landfill tax increased by another £8 per tonne on 1 April, taking the cost per tonne to £80.

“Achieving zero food waste to landfill is a big challenge but it is an achievable one,” added Simpson. “By focusing on sustainable sourcing; measures to prevent waste, as well as how to employ best practice in dealing with the waste that is produced, the hospitality industry can avoid the considerable costs associated with landfill and we can ensure that sustainability is built into the heart of the sector for years to come.”

Earlier this year, new legislation came into force in Scotland; requiring hospitality businesses that produce more than 50kg of food waste per week to separate it for recycling. Similar policies are planned for Wales and Northern Ireland, and the ReFood is spearheading a campaign for a similar policy to come into force in England.

The organisation, which is part of SARIA UK, recently launched ‘Vision 2020; UK roadmap to zero food waste to landfill by 2020’, a report that encourages behavioural change in the food chain and explaining how the hospitality industry can eradicate food waste from landfill.

That report also highlights best-practice examples from across the hospitality and catering sector. Among these, Kings Valley Hotel in Ireland saved seven per cent on its purchase of food, while Frimley Hall Hotel in Surrey saved £100 a month by removing garnishes from dishes.

Businesses can sign up to Vision 2020 by visiting

Luke Nicholls

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