Problem: I want to run my restaurant in a sustainable way, but I'm finding that waste disposal costs are getting higher and higher, so it costs more to do. How can I get the balance right?
Solution: For many businesses, waste disposal costs are an overhead that owners feel they have limited control over. In reality, effective waste management can lead to significant cost savings and demonstrates that your business cares about the environment. WRAP estimates the hospitality sector alone could save £724 million a year through better waste management.
The starting point is to monitor your waste for a short period of time. Keep a note of what you dispose, who collects it and what it costs. Doing this alone can often point to immediate savings.
Areas you may want to look into include:
- Are we getting rid of lots of plate scrapings?
- Do my suppliers send me excessive packaging?
- What is going to landfill that could be recycled?
- When did we last check the market for the best recycling and waste management deal?
- Am I being charged for bin collections which might only be half full?
Armed with this information, you could:
- Look at your portion sizes, could these be reduced?
- Ask your suppliers to reduce their packaging or provide returnable packaging.
- Commit to recycling more of your 'black bag' waste. Keeping your food waste separate makes recycling easier and you don’t need as many recycling collections. Cardboard, metal, glass, rigid plastics and increasingly food waste are widely recycled.
- Shop around for a waste supplier. Consider the size of bins and number of collections in any contract. Businesses can choose their own provider and there are many different services available.
Bear in mind that disposal costs arise in different places. For example, macerators use a lot of water and electricity to dispose of food, which could be put to better use through a recycling service. Ask your account for the bills.
There is a wealth of free, practical impartial advice available for businesses in England to help them to reduce the amount of waste they produce and identify effective reuse solutions for unavoidable waste. One such organisation is the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) which uses its national network of business members to identify mutually profitable links between businesses so that previously underused and undervalued wastes are recovered and reused by others. NISP in England is funded by WRAP. The WRAP website also has dedicated advice for the hospitality sector.
Whilst it will cost a small amount of time to carry out a mini-audit of your waste, it can lead to significant savings in the long term. For example, adopting this approach led to annual savings of £897 for a hotel in Central Scotland - within 3 months their 1100 litre Eurobin, which had been collected twice weekly, was reduced to one 360 litre bin once a week.
Identifying and using a novel food waste collection and recycling process also led to a pop-up restaurant diverting almost a tonne of food waste from landfill and associated cost savings in the two weeks in which it operated. This helped to promote the sustainable message that the restaurant was aiming for.
And finally…shout about your green credentials - the green agenda is forming an increasing part in the public’s purchasing decisions so being openly environmentally-friendly can also help your business.
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