How Compass are tackling food waste head on

1.3 billion tons. This is the weight of all the food thrown away globally every year, equating to almost one third of all food produced. If food waste were a country it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

Compass Group is helping tackle the issue. In 2017 Compass Group USA launched the first Stop Food Waste Day, an initiative with the aim of drawing attention to the problem of food waste. Now in its second year, Stop Food Waste Day has brought together 30 countries including Australia, Japan, Turkey, Canada, the US, Brazil and the UK.

On Friday 27th April, Compass Group UK & Ireland marked Stop Food Waste Day with a series of activities across its offices, client sites and units throughout the country. EP spoke to Celena Fernandez, Head of Environment at Compass Group UK & Ireland to find out more.

As the largest caterer in the UK, we recognise the important role we play in reducing food waste, both in commercial and domestic kitchens. In 2016, we set ourselves the target of reducing our food waste by 10% by 2020. Stop Food Waste Day 2018 helps make people aware of the work we are doing as well as raising the profile of the food-waste problem.

Following success with the initiative in the US last year, Compass is now taking Stop Food Waste Day global. Including across the UK & Ireland through a series of activities, which took place at our offices in Birmingham and Chertsey, across several client sites and throughout our units.

The campaign’s initiatives have included our customers, clients, colleagues and the general public. Being able to engage with all these audiences is integral to tackling the food waste issue. As a company serving close to three million people a day, we are in a unique position to connect with the general public. If we can spread the message of Stop Food Waste Day to an audience of that size, we can really start to generate greater awareness of the problem at hand.

As part of the campaign, we partnered with Hubbub, a charity specialising in creating environmental campaigns with a difference. They supported us to deliver a series of initiatives across one university, University of Sussex, a distribution centre and two high profile sites in Canary Wharf.


We also recognise the importance of informing our people. Throughout the week leading up to Stop Food Waste Day, colleagues in Birmingham and Chertsey took part in a number of the campaign’s activities. We also encouraged all who ate in the office restaurants to ask for a slightly smaller portion, if they felt they would be unable to finish the standard portion size. By simply implementing this process throughout the week, we managed to reduce waste from our colleague’s plates by 1.74 kilograms, showing in a tangible way how the smallest of changes can make a difference.

So how have we been reducing our food waste throughout the business? The answer to this question is two-pronged: in the first instance we are looking to cook less food that will go uneaten, in the second, we redistribute uneaten food to be consumed elsewhere.

By putting the scale under the kitchen bin, then linking that to a device which lets chefs digitally input what was thrown away and at what stage in the food production process, food waste can be monitored and recorded to show areas where it can be reduced. Winnow has been a real success story. We have achieved almost 35% reduction in waste on average at the sites where the technology is being used.

There is inevitably always going to be food which goes uneaten and therefore can’t be sold, but is still within its date for consumption. This doesn’t have to be the end of the road for the food; this food can still be eaten. In these cases we partner with a number of charities and food banks who help us distribute these products so they’re not wasted.

We have already achieved a 2.7% reduction in food waste across the company, meaning we are on-track to hit our goal of reducing food waste by 10% by 2020. Through Stop Food Waste Day and through changes we’re making across the business, we’re confident we can make a real impact in reducing food waste.

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