The hospitality industry recycles less than half of the 3.5 million tonnes of rubbish it produces each year, research has revealed.
The Composition of Waste Disposed by the Hospitality Industry report by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) found that only 1.6 million tonnes (48%) of waste is recycled by the industry, with 1.5 million (43%) thrown away, mainly to landfill.
However, the survey, which questioned 60 large hospitality chains and 1,660 independent businesses across the UK, suggests that 77% of the waste currently sent for disposal could be recycled. It also estimates that as much as 950,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions could be saved if this recyclable waste was actually recycled.
While WRAP found that the hospitality industry is largely committed to recycling, with 76% of businesses recycling at least one material, food waste recycling is rare as 41% of the waste going to landfill is food waste, two-thirds of which could be eaten.
Richard Swannell, director of design and waste prevention at WRAP, said there is a real opportunity to reduce waste and costs across the hospitality sector.
"It is clear from our findings that much work has been done by the hospitality sector to reduce waste to landfill in favour of increased recycling, and more could be done. Businesses are keen to recycle, or recycle more, but often come across barriers, such as a lack of space," he said.
Pubs produced the biggest amount of waste (1.6 million tonnes), ahead of restaurants (nearly 1.1 million tonnes), hotels (485,000 tonnes) and quick service restaurants (246,000 tonnes).
Hospitality businesses in England produced by far the biggest amount of waste at 1.2 million tonnes, with Scotland throwing out 131,000 tonnes, Wales 71,000 tonnes and Northern Ireland 43,000.
By Kerstin Kühn
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