Restaurant Waste

Waste management

The foodservice industry in the UK is estimated to produce over 400,000 tonnes of avoidable waste each year. This waste brings huge social, environmental and economic consequences, and it’s incredibly important for all food businesses – from producers to retailers and restaurateurs – to do their bit to ensure food waste is correctly and efficiently managed.

Why is it important for a restaurant to have a good waste management plan?

There are lots of reasons why correct restaurant waste management procedures are crucial. Firstly, your customers care. Studies have proven that organisations with a sustainable approach to food waste management are likely to outperform those who don’t. With a huge customer focus on sustainability, increasing numbers of businesses are implementing sustainable waste management policies.

A responsible food waste management policy will ultimately benefit the environment. If your restaurant reduces the amount of food waste it sends to landfill, it will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted. In addition to this, you could also save money by implementing a food waste management scheme which reduces the amount of overall waste you produce. will help you implement this.

What laws govern restaurant waste management?

In the UK, waste policy is largely driven by the existing EU Waste Framework Directive. This directive prioritises the prevention of waste, the redistribution of usable products, recycling, recovery and finally disposal as the least-preferred means of dealing with waste.

MPs attempted to introduce a Food Waste Reduction Bill to parliament in 2015. However, the bill has yet to make any further progress. Instead, the government currently focuses on voluntary initiatives to reduce food waste, as opposed to taking a regulatory approach. These voluntary initiatives are primarily led by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

What are the most common types of waste produced in a restaurant?

Busy restaurants are likely to produce several different forms of waste. The most common food waste items include the following:

    Preparation waste: this includes things like peelings or off-cuts (for example, potato skins or fat trimmed from a cut of meat).

    Spoilage: items which have reached their use-by date or have otherwise become ruined in the kitchen.

    Plate waste: leftover food which comes back from the plates of customers.

    Avoidable waste: excess waste generated in error (for example, producing too large a portion of a dish).

    Packaging: Ingredients come in all sorts of different types of packaging. Cardboard, plastic, glass and aluminium are commonly used in the food industry.

    Old uniforms: General wear-and-tear on chef’s whites and waiting staff uniforms.

Restaurant waste disposal: what happens to food waste?

Food waste (prep waste, plate waste and spoilage) can be taken to an anaerobic digestion plant. Anaerobic digestion is a process which involves the breaking down of organic matter without the need for oxygen. Instead, bacteria breaks the material down.

During the process, organic waste is collected from restaurants and delivered to a handling system. The waste is placed in an anaerobic digester. From here, it can be converted to fertiliser, compost or bedding – or alternatively, it can be sent on again to a biogas handling system. The biogas produced by the food waste can be used to generate heat, electricity or vehicle fuel.

What about other waste?

As established, not all waste from a restaurant can be classed as “food waste”. Different types of waste need to be treated/processed accordingly.

A sustainable waste management policy should dictate that additional non-food waste – such as cardboard, glass and aluminium cans – are recycled in accordance with local guidelines. In the UK, waste management is devolved, which means local authorities have their own guidelines regarding how waste should be collected/recycled.

Recyclable materials should be placed in relevant recycling bins. Your waste management company will then transport these materials to be repurposed. For example, cardboard can be used to make things like paper towels, tissues, cereal boxes or printer paper. Glass can be reused for the exact same purpose (new bottles/jars) or repurposed as glass wool insulation.

Restaurant waste bins

What waste bins are required for a restaurant?

At the very minimum, a restaurant which takes its food waste management policy seriously should have the following waste bins on-site:

Food bin: 240-litre food bin: a standard 240-litre wheelie bin should suffice for kerbside collections. It’s possible to get modified food bins with a hatch specifically designed to accept food waste and to reduce access to pests such as gulls or rodents.

Cardboard bin: recyclable materials need to be kept separate. Your restaurant will, therefore, need a bin specifically for cardboard. Restaurants which use a lot of cardboard may want to invest in a baler – a type of machine that compresses cardboard for more convenient storage.

Glass bin: Recycled glass also needs to be kept separate.

Aluminium can bin: Cans containing ingredients should be kept separate for recycling purposes, too.

Click to view and learn about all our commercial wheelie bins.

General waste bin: Not all waste is recyclable or repurposable, and all other general waste should go in a designated bin. However, it is important to educate your colleagues on what can and cannot be recycled, in order to reduce the amount of recyclable waste going to landfill.

How can you reduce waste in a restaurant?

    Avoid over-buying: only purchase ingredients you know your restaurant can use within designated use-by dates.

    Correctly store food: ensure fridges/freezers are running at correct temperatures, and keep dry food storage areas clean at all times.

    Practice regular stock rotation: adhere to the “first in, first out” rule when displaying/storing food.

    Label items correctly: if you decant ingredients into different containers, label them with all relevant information (allergens, product description and date information).

    Inspect all deliveries: only accept items that are in perfect condition, and delivered at the optimum temperature.

    Portion control: avoid dishing out huge portions, as customers are more likely to leave leftovers under these circumstances.

    Donate excess ingredients: local charities and foodbanks may be able to make use of ingredients you don’t use.

    Incorporate leftovers: vegetable peelings and animal carcasses/bones can be used to create soups/stocks.

    Compost food waste: add food waste to a compost bin and do your bit for sustainability.

    Encourage customers to take leftovers home: this will reduce your overall waste footprint.

Restaurant waste collections

At, you can expect competitive pricing, reliable waste collections, a commitment to achieving 0% to landfill, free wheelie bins and a service you can rely on. We’ll provide a free duty of care certificate for all your waste collections and replacement to damaged bins.

We work around your business and arrange collections to suit your requirements. Whether you require a weekly recycling collection or one-off disposal, our team is on-hand to help you meet your food waste management targets. We offer national waste collections and no job is too big or too small – for further information, contact us today.

Restaurant waste facts

1.9 million tonnes of food waste is generated in the UK each year – and 400,000 tonnes of that is avoidable.

This is the equivalent of £9.7 billion worth of food.

Potatoes are the most-wasted ingredient in the UK.

Food waste creates more than 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

25% of freshwater supplies around the world are used to grow food that is never eaten.

Almost half of all food waste takes place in the hospitality sector.

Restaurant food waste collection & recycling services

We are fully committed to reducing the impact that excessive waste has on the environment. It costs businesses unnecessary money to send their food waste to landfill; food waste is organic and can be completely recycled.

We provide the latest technology in food waste recycling to businesses across the country. Whether you are large or small, and wherever you are based, we have professional waste management services local to you.

Not only can we provide your organisation with a comprehensive restaurant food waste management system, but we can also offer you a choice of bins and provide daily, weekly or monthly collection and recycling services to meet the requirements of your catering business.

Business Waste LTD
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