Tackling waste: how business can save money and help the environment
Food waste is costing the hospitality industry a staggering £64m. Anne Adrain highlights some of the initiatives coming from the food and drink sector that seek to tackle the issue of waste.
Good to go
In a bid to tackle the amount of food waste produced by the hospitality industry, the Scottish Government is trying to remove the negative connotation of the ‘doggy bag’ by introducing the ‘Good to Go’ scheme.
Almost one in six meals produced in the hospitality industry is thrown away costing the industry a staggering £64million.
The ‘Good to Go’ initiative was piloted by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) in 2014: it sought to reduce food waste and the associated costs to business.
Restaurants that have signed up to the scheme offer to box their customers’ uneaten food letting them take it away to be eaten at home.
These businesses are not only helping to change customer behaviour and attitudes towards food waste but are also reducing the costs of their waste collection charges. The initiative also encourages restaurants to look more closely at portion sizes as a means of reducing food waste.
As part of its commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Scottish Government has pledged to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025: 'Good to Go' is one of the initiatives undertaken as part of that commitment.
Other countries are now considering adopting this initiative.
Some restaurants were initially reluctant to get involved in the scheme due to a fear of litigation. What if the customer becomes ill after eating food that has not been stored or reheated properly?
Helpfully, the ‘Good to Go’ boxes are sealed with labels that contain advice from Food Standards Scotland (FSS) on proper storage and reheating instructions.
A free starter pack containing 300 boxes, bags and labels is available to businesses with less than 350 employees.
More restaurants across the country are signing up to the scheme and ZWS has issued 42,000 ‘Good to Go’ boxes in the last 12 months.
You can find out more about the ‘Good to Go’ initiative via Zero Waste Scotland.
Meanwhile, takeaway giant Just Eat started trialling a pre-ticked box on its app and website from 1 April to persuade customers to opt out of receiving extra single-use plastic items such as plastic cutlery, straws and sauce sachets.
The food will still arrive in plastic tubs, but the organisation has announced it is taking steps to move away from these. This pilot occurred in the same week that Macdonald’s announced its plans to phase out the use of plastic straws in its UK restaurants.
The BBC recently announced its intention to be free of all single-use plastics by 2020.
The impact of waste on our environment, and our lives, is more topical than ever and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, recently published a Government Consultation on how the tax system might tackle the issue of single-use plastic waste.
By raising awareness of these issues and promoting these types of initiatives and innovation in the food and drink sector, we can help change behaviour and move towards a greener and more circular economy.