Hotels and restaurants tend to look on food waste as a necessary evil. In the ‘80s, nouvelle cuisine – “A modern style of cooking that avoids rich, heavy foods and emphasizes the freshness of the ingredients and the presentation of the dishes” (OED) – was all the rage, but eventually became a bit of a joke as it was commonly perceived as absurdly small amounts of food being decoratively placed on a plate for which the ‘wannabe’ crowd were prepared to pay ridiculously high prices. (Maybe they had to stop for a bag of chips on the way home…)
So we then began to associate value for money with a huge plateful of food. Fast food restaurants were pushing ‘super size’ portions, with a consequent rise in obesity levels. In 2004 the film Super Size Me pointed out the disastrous consequences to health that super sizing brought about, and caused such a furore, the practice was phased out and even the fast food restaurants began introducing healthier eating options to their menus to lead to a more healthy society and manageable hospitality waste.
But the practice of providing large platefuls of food continues, with only a few restaurants offering smaller portion sizes in the form of light bites, senior citizen menus and some serving side dishes that are large enough to eaten as mains. And with a population that’s more health conscious and portion aware, this is resulting in massive amounts of waste.
Recycled food waste
According to the resource efficiency organisation Wrap, food waste costs the hotel sector around £318 million a year. Around a third of the food wasted in hotel sector is food that diners have left on their plates, which is proof that most portion sizes are too large.
In July this year, Wrap introduced a new initiative, the Food Waste Recycling Action Plan, aiming to work with the food and hospitality industries to encourage everyone to recycle waste food. Currently in the UK, around 10 million tonnes of food is wasted every year, 40% of which is unavoidable. However, only 1.8 million tonnes is recycled. The initiative hope to increase the amount of food waste that is collected, share the costs recycling, and provide sustainable feedstocks for anaerobic digestion and in-vessel composting.
Hopefully the initiative will help the European Commission to achieve its target with regards to food waste – to halve the disposal of edible food in Europe by 2020.
If your hotel or food processing plant is concerned about food waste and would like to deal with it more efficiently and cost-effectively, contact us for more details