A new report commissioned by the Hospitality Carbon Reduction Forum (HCRF), whose members include Whitbread, J D Wetherspoons, Mitchells and Butlers, Nandos and Hammerson shows that food waste management costs could be reduced by 30% and much less food be sent to landfill.
While hospitality forum members collectively spend over £46 million on waste management per year, half of all food waste, some 150,000 tonnes, still goes to landfill. Transportation, bulking up sites and delivery to Anaerobic Digestion facilities represent the single largest cost element.
Peter Charlesworth of Carbon Statement, who was commissioned to investigate the food waste problem on behalf of forum's members, concludes that collaboration between companies on waste collection and efficient backhauling by logistics operators could transform the UK's waste industry. More food waste would go to anaerobic digestion and energy, the sector would become more efficient and business' overall waste costs would drop.
For pubs and restaurants operating on tight business margins, cost management is critical. Avoiding the spiralling costs of landfill and legislative change while improving the efficiency of waste management collection is of considerable interest to the 40 forum members, who represent 13,500 pubs and restaurants across the UK.
With utility costs expected to rise by at least 30% in the next three years, Carbon Statement estimates hospitality sector companies will have to increase their turnover by more than 10% just to maintain their current business margins.
"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," says Charlesworth.
Chris George, Head of Energy & Environment from the Whitbread Group agrees:
"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."
Louise Ellison, Head of Sustainability at Hammerson said: "We work hard to reduce our waste to landfill and in 2012 achieved a 66% recycling rate across our shopping centres. As hospitality becomes an increasingly important element of the shopping experience, working with occupiers to identify cost effective, sustainable alternatives to landfill for food waste is a natural priority for us. This report has produced very useful insights into this issue and we welcome the opportunity to continue working with the Hospitality Forum to take this initiative forward."
Carbon Statement's report has identified nine potential pilots, which could demonstrate the benefits of collaboration and new approaches to waste collection and management. The report also highlights new relationships and working partnership opportunities with Anaerobic Digestion sites, such as moving from 'bin lift fees' to weight orientated commercials.
Chris George added: "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."
Peter Charlesworth concludes: "We are very excited by the response we have had from forum members. 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."
The report will be available to buy directly from Carbon Statement at a cost of £3000. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org