Food waste collaboration could cut business costs by 30% says report

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food waste, Anaerobic digestion, Waste management

If companies simply collaborated on food waste collections they could shave 30 per cent off their costs, says Carbon Statement's Peter Charlesworth
If companies simply collaborated on food waste collections they could shave 30 per cent off their costs, says Carbon Statement's Peter Charlesworth
The costs involved in dealing with food waste could be cut by as much as 30 per cent if hospitality companies collaborated on waste collection, says the author of a report into food waste management.

Peter Charlesworth of Carbon Statement, who was commissioned by the Hospitality Carbon Reduction Forum (HCRF) to investigate the most efficient and cost-effective ways of dealing with food waste, told BigHospitality costs could even be cut by up to 50 per cent if companies asked delivery companies to backhaul (take recyclable packaging back with them on a return journey) their waste.

“We found that if companies like Whitbread and JD Wetherspoon collaborated on food waste collections they could cut costs by 30 per cent as collections could happen at the same time, so it would make things more efficient,” said Charlesworth.

“There were further improvements on cost savings by backhauling waste to a central point and we even had an example of one company saving up to 70 per cent by backhauling waste.”

The 40 members of the HCRF, which include Whitbread, JD Wetherspoon, Nandos and Spirit, collectively spend more than £46m on waste management a year with half of all their food waste, some 150,000 tonnes, going to landfill.

Charlesworth, who is also studying how greater use of anaerobic digestion plants​ can help cut food waste, said cost management was ‘critical’ for restaurants and pubs operating on tight business margins and with legislation changing around food waste and landfill costs continuing to rise, effective food waste management was central to remaining in business.

“The hospitality sector is up against it - Scottish legislation due in 2014 will largely end the dumping of food waste to landfill, landfill costs are rising and fuel prices are continuing to drive up delivery and collection costs,” he said.

Best practice

Whitbread, which yesterday was one of five businesses to receive the new Carbon Trust Standard for effective measurement, management and reduction of waste year on year, agreed that industry collaboration and sharing of best practice could help cut costs for everyone. 

Christ George, head of energy and environment at Whitbread, said: “Restaurant businesses produce a lot of waste and the industry is aware of this, so a lot of progressive work is being done to address waste and promote recycling, whilst educating and motivating people to do the right thing. Whitbread already send restaurant food waste to AD plants to support the companies environmental targets of sending no waste to landfill by 2017.

“The forum’s collaboration and sharing of best practice will ultimately lead the hospitality industry to a more sustainable future with new, innovative ways of working. We expect to benefit from reduced landfill charges and transportation costs, reduced carbon emissions as we start to generate off site energy, and improved environmental impact, as we’ll be doing more for less.”

Carbon Statement’s report has identified nine potential pilots, which could demonstrate the benefits of collaboration and new approaches to waste collection and management. Charlesworth will continue to work with all members on the next stage of the project. 

“We are very excited by the response we have had from forum members," he said. "A change in distribution and pricing brought about by the collaboration of the hospitality industry could lead a wholesale change in the way that companies manage their waste streams. This has the potential to create a ‘linked-up waste strategy’ that would work for the overall benefit of hospitality forum members and possibly be adopted by other sectors.”

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