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Viewpoint: Don’t rubbish the cost benefits of recycling your food waste

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Viewpoint: Don’t rubbish the cost benefits of recycling your food waste

When we consider that a single pub meal can cost 41p in waste, it’s time to take action, says Matt Todd, group trading director at Greene King

Responsible management of waste must be a greater priority for the hospitality industry as a whole. NPD Group has reported that the British out-of-home foodservice market could grow by as much as 0.4% in 2017 and a further 1.6% in 2018, and while an increase in dining out is great news for the hospitality industry, this growth will also increase the amount of waste generated.

So what does this mean for the pub sector? According to WRAP, the organisation helping businesses reduce waste, UK pubs serve 11% of meals eaten out of the home each year, the equivalent of 871 million meals. Pubs alone produce 873,800 tonnes of waste annually, 173,000 tonnes of which is food waste. Unlike supermarkets, this food waste is from food preparation or unfinished customer meals and cannot be donated or distributed elsewhere. Only an estimated 61% of total waste is recycled, with 11% of food waste composted or sent to anaerobic digestion facilities. Up to 73% of packaging and other wastes are recycled.

While sustainability is a key driver and an important consideration for any responsible retailer, having a sustainable waste policy also makes good commercial sense – the average cost of waste on each meal in the pub industry is 41p. A focused waste strategy will lead to a reduction in landfill tax, as well as a reduction in purchasing costs.

Sustainability is a key operational driver at Greene King and we are publicly pledging to reach zero waste to landfill by 2020, through a number of initiatives rolled out across our managed pubs. We have introduced a waste recycling backhaul scheme, enabling our teams to separate waste on site into dedicated bins for food, cardboard, glass and other materials, which are then returned via our dedicated food distribution network, reducing the number of general waste bins by 42%. Since April 2016, this has resulted in a 95% diversion away from landfill rate, increased recycle rates by more than 30% and food waste sent to anaerobic digestion facilities has produced electricity to power more than 7,100 UK homes for an entire month.

This is significant progress that we’re proud of, but we remain focused on further improvement to deliver on our 2020 pledge. Education is key and frontline buy-in is essential. We have been working with WRAP to create employee training plans that demonstrate the importance of waste segregation and the rationale behind the strategy.

As an industry we must work together to tackle this issue and bring about change. It is vital that those at the top of organisations share this vision with their staff and ensure that the necessary steps are taken by team members to realise the full commercial and reputational benefits of food waste management.

We are committed to driving positive change in food waste across our industry and we call on our peers to do the same.

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