The hierarchy of food waste management: what you can do

Food waste in the UK has consistently been a problem, both in terms of household waste and the waste generated by the hospitality industry.

The latter kind includes unsold food products because they did not meet quality standards, dishes sent back in restaurants, scraps left on a student’s plate after a meal at school, or ingredients that are left unused past the expiry date.

Apart from the wastage of resources and energy, food waste which still ends up in landfill due to poor segregation continues to have adverse effects on the environment, releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere.

Given that the UK produces approximately 15 million tons of food annually, it is essential to take segregation and reduction of food waste more seriously.

The 3R’s of hierarchy in food waste management

Managing food waste requires a well-structured strategy that is both efficient and does not negatively impact the back of the house processes as the team tends to be busy at best. The 3R’s method applied to food waste hierarchy is a good option in this regard.

While the first tier of food waste management is to order only what is needed and to prioritise using up all inventory items before they expire, food waste that cannot be avoided can be dealt with in the following manner:

1.
Reduce

Judiciously using whatever food stocks a grower already has can go a long way in cutting down on food waste. They can be trained to use an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to track orders, analyse the shelf life of each item, prevent overstocking and more.

The staff at supermarkets can follow a FIFO (first in, first out) inventory policy so that the items ordered earlier do not lie unseen at the back of the fridge or the shelf.

Customers at supermarkets can also be roped in by offering optional sides on the menu or by packing up leftovers for free.

2.
Reuse

Reusing certain kinds of food waste is entirely feasible and safe but needs everyone in the kitchen to be creative in their cooking. Much of the scraps and peelings can be sent for composting, while meat bones and cut pieces of vegetables can be used to make broths and soups.

Fruit peelings can be candied and added as a decoration to desserts or infused into liquor. Certain vegetables can also be combined with oil and spices to produce dips, sauces or bases for a curry. Another way to use up fruit is by blending it into smoothies.

To encourage the ‘reuse’ mindset, food-to-go businesses can host competitions among its employees and reward those who reuse the most per week or month, or those who come up with most innovative ideas for reusing food.

3.
Recycle

Food that is past its expiry date or that has been sent back to the kitchen by a customer cannot technically be recycled and is thrown in the bin to be disposed of. An on-site Aerobic Food Waste Digester (FWD) and an Anaerobic Digester (AD) are a great way to process this type of waste efficiently.

In AD, microorganisms process the rotting food in the absence of oxygen to give off biogas, which can be used for power, heat and hot water.

An FWD removes a large percentage of the water content resulting in a soil-like residue suitable for onward processing thus reducing collection frequency by up-to 70%. Our systems, iD-R-250, iD-R-500 and iD-R-5K, help combat food waste for various types of businesses.

Simply put, the systems unlock the calorific content in the food so that the intrinsic energy can be re-distributed as a renewable resource.

With the “zero organics to landfill” legislation fast approaching, food service providers need to start planning now.

Dealing with food waste

Segregation is key to 3R’s success when it comes to food waste, the use of dedicated bins helps to avoid food getting sent for landfill, thereby cutting down on pollution and cost. 

Foodservice and hospitality businesses do a great job of deploying the 3R’s but it can all fall apart when the back of the house is overwhelmed and under time pressure.

Businesses can make things easier by using an on-site solution to food waste management as an alternative to costly waste collection and disposal services.

2020 has been a difficult year for the foodservice and hospitality sectors. Cutting costs and improving processes now is an ideal preparation for your business recovery plan.

Let us help you find the best food waste solution for your business and save you time and money. For more information, please fill out the form, contact us at enquiries@waste2es.com or call us on 01442 503929.

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