1.3bn meals wasted annually in UK hospitality, foodservice sector
21/11/2013 - 12:15

The UK’s hospitality and food service sector is facing an annual bill in excess of £2.5b for food waste, a new WRAP report revealed today. The report, ‘Overview of waste in the UK Hospitality and Food Service (HaFS) Sector’, also predicts that this figure could rise beyond £3bn by 2016 unless steps are taken to prevent food being wasted.

Charlotte Henderson, programme manager for hospitality and food service WRAP, outlined the report’s purpose: “Although the headline figures are large, there are significant opportunities across the whole hospitality and food service sector to reduce costs by tackling food waste.

“WRAP’s report outlines steps that will empower industry to tackle this problem, by wasting less and recycling more.

“When you consider the average annual cost per outlet is an estimated £10,000, it makes business sense to save money by reducing food waste.”

She said the report was the most in-depth study of the sector ever undertaken in the UK. It details waste produced in each of the nine sub-sectors, including restaurants, quick service restaurants, hotels, pubs, leisure, healthcare, education, staff catering and services.

It also includes a breakdown of the type of food being wasted, as well as the cost of this food waste for each sub-sector.

The report’s key findings across those nine subsectors include the following:

• The total annual waste including food, packaging and other ‘non-foods’ produced across the sector is 2.87m tonnes. Of this, 46% is recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion or composted.
• Total food waste accounts for 920,000 tonnes of this overall figure, the equivalent to 1.3bn meals or one in six of the 8bn meals served annually by the sector.
• 75% of all food wasted was avoidable and could have been eaten. Food waste generally arises from three main areas, 21% due to spoilage, 45% from food preparation and 34% from consumer plates.
• The estimated cost of a tonne of food waste is £2,800.

Henderson added: “Understanding how and why food waste arises within the sector is crucial if we are to tackle the problem, and save money.

“Today’s report gives the fullest picture of the scale of the opportunity, and outlines practical ways the industry can overcome the problem.”

Steps are already underway to help industry tackle the problem of food waste. The Hospitality and Food Service Agreement, a voluntary commitment created by WRAP on behalf of the governments in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was launched in June 2012 and has 171 signatories and supporters.

The Agreement aims to help industry to prevent food and associated packaging waste under two targets:

•  Prevention target: to reduce food and associated packaging waste arising by 5% by the end of 2015 against a 2012 baseline; measured by CO2e
• Waste management target: to increase the overall rate of food and packaging waste being recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion (AD) or composted to at least 70% by the end of 2015.

WRAP today also launched a new microsite to support the sector in reducing waste and help it recycle more. Food waste recycling for your business is free to access and includes information and practical advice on food waste recycling collections, including posters, bin labels, and case studies: