A Clean Plate. A Clean Conscience

A Clean Plate. A Clean Conscience


Over 920,000 tonnes of food is thrown away by the UK Hospitality industry each year. At home many households have food bins, designed to save waste and help the overall environment, so is the industry falling behind?

By 2016 the cost of food waste in the sector will be £3bn, so are we doing enough to stop food waste? Clearly not. Similar to the food hygiene rating system, is it time to introduce a food waste rating system – a means by which food service venues are held to account on what’s going in the bin.

The Waste Not Want Not campaign championed by EP and Go Green Tomato is calling operators to reduce the amount wasted and work on solutions on how to reduce it. Simple actions can lead to change – an audit for an estimate on the amount of waste, identify areas for easy change and educate staff on the true cost of waste.

It’s difficult when waste does appear to be everywhere. Walk down any high street in the country and you’ll see bits of litter. Councils do try and combat this but many eat on the move and feel they are allowed to simply throw their leftovers onto the floor.

Those in a busy kitchen are unlikely to hear the Head Chef shout at someone for throwing away the remaining vegetables from the busy Sunday lunch service. There are of course some who try to reuse and save what they can for staff meals, but when up against the clock, this is less likely.

The attitude of young people is quite far removed from those who remember times when shops had limited items and produce always depended on the season. Supermarkets have constant offers for buy one get one free, to the point where the term BOGOF is in people’s vocabulary, but do people really need 12 apples when 6 will be thrown away after a week? It’s now difficult to tell young people to finish their plate when the only reason is it makes them big and strong, not because they’ll lucky to have a varied meal choice.

Are we serving too much?

Recent debates have raised the issues of the micro-portions, restaurateur’s who believe taste is more important than quantity. Whilst this is important, many complaints are linked back to too much or not enough on the plate. Restaurants need to get the balance right for a business lunch or an evening meal. We all have that family member who is able to eat two portions and has somehow saved room for dessert, so it may always be an issue for some.

There are Government schemes such as the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) which advises on how to reduce waste and use resources efficiently. In 2007 they launched ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ which brought the issue into the public agenda at the time.

The big question is – would you still go to a restaurant which wastes high levels of food? Many creative chefs and their brigades will argue that to create the best, a lot has to be wasted. By cooking designer dishes the customer receives a world class meal and may pay the premium for it. However, if the food wasted is a revenue loss then real questions need to be raised.

Campaign supported by GoGreenTomato

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