Food wastage in the UK

Companies within the hospitality and catering sector should have an effective waste management strategy put in place to ensure that they’re complying with the duty of care that’s required by the UK government.

For every business, the main goal is to make a profit. One of the last things that an eager entrepreneur would think about, is the importance of a waste management strategy; but they fail to realise that a strategy could save them money in the long run, which is vital for anyone working in the hospitality sector.

With food waste being an on growing problem in Britain, together with of 8 yard skip specialist Reconomy, we look at how much waste is produced by different types of businesses within this industry, and how much it’s costing them annually in comparison with historical data.

Waste Produced: Hotels, Restaurants and Pubs


Restaurants’ across the country have a key focus on the waste, and it costs the sector £682 million annually. Although this price includes food procurement, labour, utilities and waste management costs — this can still accumulate for £3,500 for each tonne.

Over 25% of food waste in restaurants is unavoidable – However, about 20% comes from potatoes and 16% comes from fruit and vegetables. The smallest amount of food waste from restaurants is generated by whole servings and dairy products.

There are a number of financial implications that a business could face when it comes to food waste. The average cost of avoidable food waste to a restaurant is £0.97 per meal. This is something that restaurants must have a focus on, as they are responsible for 9% of the meals served in Britain annually — equivalent to 704 million meals.

The restaurant sector produces 918,400 tonnes of waste each year and 199,100 of it is accounted for by food waste.


The pub sector seems to be in a constant battle with the amount of waste they are producing, and it costs the sector £357 million each year. Similar to restaurants, this price includes costs of labour, food procurement and waste management costs but can still equate to £2,100 per tonne.

The majority of food waste here in Britain comes from unavoidable food waste, which again, is above 25%. Like restaurants, potatoes were the second largest contributor to food waste in pubs with over 20%, and fruit and veg over 15%.

Averagely, food waste cost the pub scene around £8,000 each year, with the cost of avoidable food waste working out at around £0.41 per meal. Out of 871 million meals, UK pubs are responsible for serving 11% of all meals eaten — equating to around 871 million meals.

In total, pubs generate 873,000 tonnes of waste on an annual basis – 173,000 tonnes of its being food waste.


A lot of food waste is produced by hotels – with internal restaurants, rooms service and in-room snacks that are available. The cost of food waste in hotels each year accounts for £318 million, which also includes labour, food procurement and waste management costs. However, this is broken down to £4,000 per tonne.

Unavoidable food waste is the biggest cost, which is above 35%.  This is followed by potatoes, which is at 20%, and fruit and vegetables accounting for a total of 15%.

Averagely, the cost of unavoidable food waste to a hotel is £0.52 for every meal served. . Considering that 8% of all meals are eaten out in the UK — equivalent to 611 million meals — this is a huge amount to pay.

Figures show that hotels produce 289,700 tonnes of waste each year, with 79,000 of that coming from food waste.

Calculating your waste

There are a few methods you can take to calculate the amount of waste you produce before getting a waste management organisations involved. Start by distributing your waste into different sections and this will allow you to have a visual insight into the types of waste you’re producing.

Then use three different bins to collect the appropriate data on food preparation, spoilage and leftovers that come in from your customers plates. Use the data you have collected and multiply this figure by the amount it costs per tonne and this will tell you how much it is costing your business each year.

The majority of food waste comes from:

  • Food preparation – 45%.
  • Spoilage – 21%.
  • Customer plates – 34%.

Those in hospitality who are looking to reduce the amount of food waste your business is generating, there are a few methods you can take to achieve this. If you find that your menu size is quite large, you will find yourself buying a lot of ingredients which could go to waste if no one orders certain meals. To combat this, monitor the type of food being ordered in your restaurant and this will give you the knowledge on what dishes you can remove from your menu.

You might want to consider whether your portion sizes are too big — if they are, reducing them in size can lead to less waste from your customers. It could also be a good idea to buy long-lasting ingredients that are vital in your kitchen and can be used across different dishes, such as spices; it’s only important to buy fresh food only as you need.

To help better the environment and give back to your community, any food waste should be donated to homeless shelters or to a local farm — where unused waste can be fed to the animals.

The Government’s Position on Business Waste

With the UK having a goal to become a country that produces zero waste — Prime Minister Theresa May has recently pledged to eliminate plastic waste by 2042 with a goal to safeguard the environment. For those in hospitality, this will mean there will be a greater scope on how we reduce, reuse and recycle and highlight that we only throw away as a last resort.

With a greater focus on waste, catering and hospitality, businesses must have an appropriate way to store waste correctly before it leaves the premises. Once stored, you must produce a waste transfer note for each load that is planned to be removed from your premises. It’s your duty to ensure that your waste carrier is registered with the appropriate authorities to dispose waste, and if they aren’t you must not use them.

Try calculating how much waste your catering business is producing — then witness rapid results when you make the appropriate changes.


Previous post

Power cuts in Britain: the battles businesses are facing

Next post

Dollar strong - sterling suffers in latest forex news



Ive been blogging now for 5 years on various sites for the love of knowledge share. I decided to start my own blog a few years back to share everything from tech to business news. Follow me on twitter for more.