The UK foodservice sector will continue to lag behind other nations when it comes to sustainability if it doesn’t increase the rate of change in dealing with food waste, packaging and reducing meat consumption, according to a new report.
The Sustainable Restaurant Association’s (SRA) The Tastiest Challenge on the Planet report has found some progress among hospitality businesses, but the organisation believes that chefs and business leaders’ reluctance to dictate change is stifling progress.
The SRA is calling for operators to commit to accelerated and measurable changes so that the UK can improve on its 24th place on the global food sustainability league table compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition Foundation.
Chief executive Andrew Stephen said: “The scale and urgency of the issues facing the planet are huge. We need to challenge what we call normal, or good enough in hospitality in the UK. While the industry is taking lots of small steps, they aren’t keeping pace with the scope of what is needed. It is no longer sufficient simply to talk about being a sustainable business without targeting bigger change on the biggest issues.”
The report finds that the potential benefits are huge. For instance, if the foodservice sector reduced food waste by a quarter, it could cut its carbon emissions by just under a million tonnes a year – the equivalent to grounding more than 2,000 London to New York return flights.
Stephen said that packaging had to be a big area of focus too.
He added: “The whole sector needs to act now, because if we don’t fix food, we can’t fix climate change. It’s time to seize the opportunity to embrace meaningful change towards a more restorative model, capturing customers’ desire for more sustainable menus, growing pressure from investors to see the businesses they have a stake in tackling the big issues and the environmental imperative to avoid climate catastrophe.”
The SRA has targeted cutting food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030, reducing the sector’s food waste by 25% by 2025 and meeting the four targets set in WRAPs Plastics Pact.
Henry Dimbleby, Founder of Leon and a non-exec board member of Defra said in the report: “UK restaurants alone use a tiny amount of global resources, but their ability to make the weather and influence how people feel about sustainability and food is massive. And what we do, others in the world will follow.”