According to ‘The Caterer’ magazine “a staggering 3.3 million tonnes of food waste from hotels, restaurants and bars goes into landfill sites every year, with probably the same amount being discarded by hospitals, schools and other mass catering outlets”.
This week I’ve been looking at how the hospitality industry could reduce that figure in a way that would boost its global environmental standing while at the same time helping the bottom line. In an ideal world, every scrap of food that passes through a professional kitchen would be efficiently turned into a range of fantastic dishes by talented chefs and devoured by enthusiastic consumers.
Below are just a few suggestions I would have for managing, controlling and utilising food waste in the industry more effectively moving forward.
When preparing vegetables ensure as much as possible is used and any that aren’t are being turned into compost, which can then perhaps be used to grow further vegetables? This in itself may seem a little far fetched, not to mention time-consuming but if every catering business in the UK and indeed around the world got on board with a small idea like this, one could only imagine the environmental and financial impact - huge!!
Sourcing Seasonal and Local Foods
The constant use of seasonal and local produce in a restaurant is always a good way of enticing customers current and new. This is obviously achieved through frequent menu changes, allowing chefs to provide variety while at the same time utilising stock in as many ways possible, thus potentially bringing down wastage. It is important to remember that wasting food is basically a waste of resources and money. At the same time, it adds year on year to our carbon footprint!!
In the event that a catering business over orders stock to the point that they realise that it is unlikely to be used before its ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date, an industry-wide Global Food Bank scheme could be set up so that stock can easily and quickly be dropped off or collected and contributed to charities or the homeless.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR’s)
Some businesses of varying sizes already operate a CSR policy. This, apart from being a kind of marketing tool, means that they voluntarily choose to operate their business in a way that is considerate to the environment possibly by way of my above suggestions and I’m sure several other initiatives.
Up until now, this has been welcome in society, but perhaps it is now time for the government to step in and actually make these procedures law while introducing a point score system similar to that used by the FSA when rating food hygiene. What harm could it do? It would pave the way for more environmentally friendly, financially efficient business and would create a competition platform for all businesses to carry that ‘CSR seal’ encouraging a score of a 4 or a 5! Definitely worth some consideration!