Over 60 hospitality businesses have signed a new voluntary agreement aimed at slashing food waste by 5% and associated CO2 emissions by more than 230,000 tonnes, it was announced today.
Spearheaded by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), the Government-funded initiative set up to promote recycling and reduce waste, the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement has had commitment from hotels, pubs, restaurants, contract caterers and suppliers from across the UK.
It also aims to increase the overall rate of food and packaging waste that is being recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion or composted to 70% - a reduction in CO2 emissions of 336,000 tonnes.
Richard Swannell, director of design & waste prevention at WRAP, said that attention had turned to the hospitality industry following research last year that found there were significant cost savings to be had - over £700m a year - by eliminating food waste.
"The key is to not only look at the benefits to the environment but most importantly the benefits to the signatories in terms of cost savings," he said.
The British Hospitality Association (BHA) welcomed the initiative but expressed concern about the manner in which results would need to be reported, citing the challenges that were associated with Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's Responsibility Deal.
Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the BHA, said: "Many companies signed up to it for very good reasons and then found the reporting was rather more difficult. It's a case of once bitten, twice shy. But when the industry spends something like £10m a year on food purchases, it's a good idea to reduce the waste."
He added that while there is still work to be done on issues like measurement, the hope is that they will shortly be resolved.
However many of the businesses that have already signed up, such as Compass Group and Young's Brewery, are confident that the procedures they already have in place will support their efforts.
"We're benefiting from the fact that we started measuring waste in the kitchen environment through our in-unit process Trim Trax back in 2009," explained Sachin Sharma, head of corporate responsibility and environment for Compass.
Young's is also used to waste management, with 92% of its managed pubs recycling glass and 75% recycling cardboard. Bill Epsley, commercial manager at the pubco, said that managing food waste shouldn't be a problem.
"We're on about 30% for food, which for us is the new element. I don't foresee it as a major issue. It's a matter of discipline on site and we've found it is much easier to implement than we anticipated."
HOSPITALITY & FOOD SERVICE AGREEMENT SIGNATORIES
Café Spice Namasté
Castell Howell Foods
Fairmont St Andrews
Houses of Parliament
Jurys Inns UK
Red Carnation Hotels
Spirit Pub Company
St Austell Brewery
Town House Collection
Young & Co's Brewery
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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