London’s food businesses ‘unaware or unwilling to tackle waste’

The majority of London's small and medium-sized food businesses have turned down the offer of support from the Mayor of London's FoodSave programme to reduce food waste and save money.

So says the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and Sustain who are together delivering the FoodSave programme across the UK’s capital.

“While we’re really proud of what we’ve achieved running FoodSave, it has also been deeply frustrating to find that large swathes of restaurants, cafes and pubs have turned down the opportunity for this free consultancy that would save them money and significantly improve their environmental footprint,” said the SRA’s FoodSave programme manager Victoria Moorhouse.

94% of businesses have turned down the offer of support, with a large proportion claiming not to have a food waste problem or the time to address it if they do, despite participating businesses being estimated to save £6000 annually through the programme.

The 90 businesses which have so far participated in the scheme are expected in total to save more than £300,000 per year; to cut their food and related packaging waste by 259 tonnes and to divert 880 tonnes of surplus food to good causes. A number of businesses are expected to save as much as £20,000 each year.

A significant Problem

Eligible businesses wishing to participate in the programme only have until the start of March to take advantage of the free help.

The FoodSave team provides detailed reports, identifyies problem waste streams and works closely with businesses to create practical solutions. Sustain has worked with more than 40 with retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers to redistribute food that would otherwise have been wasted, by turning the surplus food into meals for vulnerable people, new products such as juices and soups, or sustainable livestock feed. As a result traders at London’s iconic Borough Market are now donating up to a tonne of surplus food each month to a number of local charities.

“The project has categorically proved that this is a significant problem and those businesses that have committed time to scrutinise the food waste they are throwing away have experienced rich rewards. Only by measuring their food waste can food business owners, chefs and restaurateurs truly tackle the issue and start to reap the benefits, with lighter bins and a better bottom line.” Moorhouse said.

The FoodSave programme was launched by London Mayor Boris Johnson in November 2013 and initially helped 15 businesses before being expanded in May 2014 to a possible further 200. Johnson is urging not just businesses but households too to recycle more and save London £4m in disposal costs.

Lucinda Dann

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