Fighting together

How do a research charity, a contract caterer and a food tech company lead by example in the fight against food waste?

Together there is the potential to change the culture in the kitchen.

The Wellcome Trust is the second largest charitable foundation in the world dedicated to supporting medical research and new drug discoveries. Besides improving health by helping great projects to thrive, they are also contributing to enhance the wellbeing of our planet. The organisation gives high importance to addressing sustainability issues, and is committed to taking action against one of the world’s most urgent problems: food waste.

The Wellcome Trust has worked together with its catering partner Restaurant Associates (part of Compass Group UK & Ireland), at their central London head office to dramatically reduce food waste. The technology of innovative technology start-up Winnow is now being used to measure, monitor and cut food waste.

Winnow tracks waste with a digital scale placed under a bin. Chefs identify items using a touchscreen tablet which is connected to the cloud, allowing the teams to record what is being thrown away. A detailed report is then sent to the teams including the weight, value, time and reason why the waste was generated. This gives chefs the information necessary to drive improvements in their production processes to cut food waste.

Restaurant Associates installed Winnow’s digital scale and smart meter in October 2014 at Wellcome Trust. The team were able to quickly identify where waste was happening within their operations and make adjustments to production to reduce waste. Today food waste has been reduced by more than 70% from the starting point. It is the equivalent of preventing 4.4 tonnes of food from being wasted, avoiding 11.000 meals ending up in the bin. They have been very pleased with the results and the kitchen has now become a blueprint for others to learn from. 

“Winnow has made my job easier as a chef because it gives me more control over my kitchen and helps the team understand and identify food waste. Together we have significantly cut food waste which helps us act more sustainably while still delivering a high level of service for our client.” – says Chris Arkadieff, Executive Chef at the Wellcome Trust.

The relationship between these three players – The Wellcome Trust, Restaurant Associates and Winnow – is a great example of big organisations partnering with smaller, innovative technology companies to disrupt traditional processes to have a positive impact on the environment.

Marc Zornes, co-founder of Winnow commented: “Our partnership with Compass Group UK & Ireland has helped shape the technology and therefore its impact on food waste. In the case of Wellcome Trust, the outstanding results provide tangible evidence for what can be achieved within restaurant kitchens.”

Together, they have the potential to change the culture in kitchens and transform the way we make food.