Food waste has long been a concern area in the UK, and the COVID-19 lockdown at the start of 2020 led to vast volumes of food being thrown out owing to hospitality business closures.
Now that fresh lockdown restrictions have been imposed on significant parts of the UK, it looks like Christmas will be spent alone, quarantined at home for the majority of the citizens, or with limited contact with friends and family.
Despite the uncertainty about the celebrations, food businesses had to continue to prepare for the run-up to Christmas, which entailed resourceful planning of its own to minimise food waste.
It is clear that until the Coronavirus strain in the UK is controlled, both businesses and consumers need to have their guard up. They also need to reduce food waste levels collectively.
What businesses can do
Overstocking, poor storage and improper waste disposal techniques make food businesses the biggest culprits when it comes to Christmas food waste. Here is how they can aim for more sustainable festive cheer this time.
1. Adjust order quantities
Food retailers and restaurants can adopt more agile stock management techniques to order supplies, following demand forecasts. This also involves keeping stock of which items are selling out quickly and which ones are accumulating.
Retailers should also stay in regular touch with their suppliers so that orders can be placed and fulfilled promptly to meet peak demand during the week.
2. Store food strategically
Often, food goes to waste because it has not been stored properly. Food businesses can adopt strategies such as using older items first, labelling supplies with the dates on which they were delivered, using airtight containers to store food, freezing perishable items and using up leftovers or wonky-looking produce creatively in new dishes.
3. Make the most of technology
Food waste apps can efficiently solve the problem of what to do with leftovers and extra supplies. Restaurants and food retailers can connect with an organisation that will collect the different food and distribute it to homeless shelters or as care packages for families with low food security. Not only does this contribute to a worthy cause, but it also reduces sunk costs for the business by eliminating the need to dump leftovers.
How are popular UK brands combating food waste
Fuelled by a desire to combat food waste management and to make acceptable the Covid-19 losses, some British retailers are already implementing new strategies in this regard.
One of the biggest Christmas sellers, M&S has previously incurred high levels of food waste that the team is determined to avoid this year. They have launched a supply chain initiative called Vangarde, after the shopping park in York where the team often tests new ideas.
The Vangarde programme aims to revamp the entire supply chain, from planning and suppliers to logistics and stores.
Among its initiatives include tailoring stock deliveries to an individual store’s needs, increasing the number of deliveries outside of trading hours and planning more frequent and smaller deliveries.
Store workers now have shifts that fit into closing hours, so that customer contact is lessened. They have also been assigned handheld Honeywell devices to check stock levels as needed. The first phase covered 92 stores served by a regional distribution centre in Barnsley, intending to cover 595 stores by July 2021.
b. Fresco Environmental
Fresco Environmental creates tailored business solutions that divert food waste from landfills and reuse or recycle it instead. Their advanced recycling techniques and dedicated account management teams improve each client’s waste management results based on regular interactions and robust KPI reporting.
Based on the results of a free site consultation, they redirect commercial food surplus to either biogas production or animal feed, depending on what is more cost-effective. The business no longer has the trouble of having to dispose of its waste arbitrarily – it can save money and do its bit towards a more sustainable world.
This way, Fresco Environmental helps to deliver lasting environmental and financial benefits to the businesses they work with.
What consumers can do
Households often end up wasting food during the holiday season owing to poorly planned shopping lists and improperly stored food. With the lockdown restrictions due to COVID-19, it is even more critical for consumers to do their part towards ensuring a more sustainable Christmas:
1. Plan a menu and shop accordingly
Particularly now that Christmas gatherings are going to be smaller than usual, it is essential to plan a menu in advance and only buy the amounts needed to feed (and not overfeed) the guest list. Having a shopping list in hand can also help to reduce impulse buying, which is likely to happen at this time of the year owing to all the attractive displays in supermarkets.
2. Store food correctly
Perishable products should be stored with care and used up by their expiry date or frozen for later use. Leftovers should be kept in airtight containers, and the items that will go bad first should be stored at the front and centre of the fridge so that they are top of mind.
3. Get creative with leftovers
Most households have leftover turkey or chicken from their Christmas feast, and it can get tiring to keep eating the same thing for days. Instead, families can get creative with leftover meat by tossing it into salads or different kinds of pasta, packing it into sandwiches or baking it into pot pies and pasties. The more delicious the ideas, the likelier the leftovers are to get eaten rather than be thrown away.
Over to you
Without a doubt, 2020 has been a challenging year. But that does not mean, steps cannot be taken to deal with food waste sustainably. Amending food habits, and improving processes and cutting costs is an ideal waste management technique for consumers and businesses, respectively.
If you are looking for the best food waste solution that saves you time and money, we can help! For more information, please fill the contact form or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.