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Visit Scotland | Alba

It's important to reduce the quantity of food waste you produce. This will save you money through buying less food, and saving on waste disposal charges.

Food waste is likely one of the heaviest and largest items in your bin and disposal is costly. Filling one 240 litre food waste wheelie bin every week costs approximately £12,500 a year.

But the true impact of food waste is not only the disposal costs. It includes time and money spent buying, storing and cooking food for your business.

Stopping food waste will also reduce your business' environmental impact and carbon footprint.


1. How to identify your food waste

One of the first steps in reducing food waste is to weigh your food waste or to count the numbers of bins or buckets containing such waste.

Accuracy isn't that important. Just try to set a general benchmark for the amount of waste you're currently producing.

When measuring your food waste, also try to take a note of its source:

  • does the bulk of your food waste come from food spoiling in storage?
  • is a lot of food wasted as you prepare dishes?
  • do you have loads of leftovers at the end of each meal?

Next step, is to identify the major sources of food waste and put in place changes to reduce these sources.

Once you've done this, weigh your waste again. This will give you a clear measurement of whether your changes have worked and might help you identify next areas of waste to tackle.

If you repeat this process regularly, you should be able to reduce your waste, save money, and continuously spot ways to help reduce waste further.

2. Top tips to reduce food waste

The most appropriate ways for your business to reduce food waste will depend on the kind of food service you provide.

Once you have identified where waste comes from you can adjust your practices. You can avoid a lot of waste by reviewing the following areas:

  • Purchasing practices

    • only buy what you need
    • bulk buy non-perishable items
    • have one person in charge of purchasing food to avoid duplicating your order and to deepen your relationship with your suppliers

  • Menu planning and portion sizes

    • plan menus using seasonal and local produce
    • offer side dish elements (such as side salads) as an option rather than as standard
    • offer different portion sizes to suit customers’ varying appetites
    • offer customers the option to take away anything not eaten in a carry-out box
    • save any leftovers to use the following day for staff lunches
  • Storage methods

    • check fridge and freezer temperatures regularly
    • use air-tight containers
    • use a first-in, first-out system for stock control and food preparation
  • Food preparation practices

    • decrease preparation waste by reducing trimmings of vegetables, meat, and fish
    • use carcasses, bones, trimmings, and more to prepare stock for sauces or soups
    • use "nose to tail eating" (develop menu dishes that use less popular cuts, such as offal)
    • track busy periods / times of the day and year to help you manage, ordering and preparing food according to varying demand

3. Hospitality Zero case studies

4. Further advice on reducing food waste

The following webpages can help you with more tips to reduce and recycle food waste. You can also contact your waste contractor or local authority if you have any queries about the food waste collection service in your area.

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