‘Working with the SRA on the FoodSave audit gave us a detailed oversight of our food waste. It gave us the tools to minimise waste thus helping our GP and environmental impact. Waste costs us money in terms of purchasing, time and removal. Anything we can do within our business to eradicate unnecessary cost has to be an advantage.’
The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) have been delivering the FoodSave project for over five months now and are now currently supporting almost 20 London businesses to reduce their food waste, boost profit and lessen their environmental impact. FoodSave is funded by the Mayor of London, European Regional Development Fund and London Waste and Recycling Board and is free to take part in as long as your business meets the criteria.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates that the average annual cost of food waste for hospitality and food service outlets is £10,000 and that three quarters of food wasted in the sector could have been eaten. Clearly there is sound case for reducing food waste; it’s good for the environment and good for the bottom line too.
The SRA team have been working with their technology partners Winnow Solutions to run month long detailed food waste audits for restaurants, hotels, pubs, QSRs and canteens to analyse the food waste being produced by businesses. The Winnow system measures the real time weight and cost of food waste across different food waste types (spoilage, preparation and customer plate waste). We then work with the catering teams to find ways of reducing food waste and tracking this over time.
Results from the first ten FoodSave waste audits have been overwhelmingly positive with average annual weight savings of 1.7 tonnes (that’s the equivalent of 24 180 litre wheelie bins). Through using the FoodSave results the chefs and managers that have been working with the SRA have come up with some great ways to tackle food waste. Examples include using left over salmon in fish cakes, chalking up left over restaurant menu items onto the bar snacks menu as specials, reducing side portion sizes for filling menu items, and even piping butter into individual servings rather than slicing it.
It sounds simple, but every intervention adds up. So far an average of £5500 in direct food costs has been saved by businesses taking part in the project. The power of what the SRA is doing with FoodSave is measuring the impact that these interventions make to food waste and the resulting cost savings. By making staff aware of what they are throwing away and how this impacts the bottom line helps to shape behaviour change and this is the key to making change last. As Shaun Alpine-Crabtree, Chef/Patron of The Table Cafe put it, ‘to make the good practice stick it has to be engrained into staff ways of working.’ A number of chefs are now including food waste training in their on-boarding programmes for new staff, which is a great way of building food waste awareness into common ways of working.
The project is almost one quarter of the way through and the SRA is just starting to run their snap shot waste audits where they provide a high level overview of food waste over one week. Using all the great insights they have from these detailed FoodSave audits, the SRA provide a condensed version of the project which will allow more businesses to take part. With limited places filling up quickly it’s time to sign up.
Food Alert will be working more closely with the Sustainable Restaurant Associate in the future and will be assessing how we can support our clients in this area.