Catering equipment manufacturer IMC believes a more joined-up approach – from supplier all the way to chef – is necessary if operators are to significantly reduce the volume of food waste they produce.
Statistics suggest that anywhere between 125 and 250 grams per person is typically wasted following a restaurant meal, excluding spoilage and prep waste, creating a £2.5 billion challenge for the industry.
IMC’s managing director, Steve Witt, acknowledged that more caterers are implementing front-end initiatives that proactively address the issue, but as a manufacturer of equipment that essentially deals with what’s left over he believes there is still a way to go.
“If you look at the WRAP pie chart of what’s wasted in prep, spoilage and plate waste then I always say that we are there to target that plated waste. But the funniest thing that surprises most customers when we go in and do a food waste audit is that more often than not, no matter the size of our equipment that we put in, there is still more waste than we can handle.
“So part and parcel of our audit trail is to try and get them to reduce that waste to a manageable chunk that we can actually deal with, but I am always very aware that we are at the wrong end of the problem-solving chain. It needs to be, I guess, from the operator point of view, something that is challenged at chef level.”
Mr Witt, who was speaking at a recent FEJ editorial roundtable on food waste, said it continues to engage with government to ensure sensible legislative steps are taken. Currently Scotland and Ireland have much stronger food disposal rules in place than England and Wales.
He added that one of his biggest frustrations is that the pace of change is too slow and the UK has already been overtaken on the issue by other markets.
“Six years ago I remember going to the Middle East and they did absolutely nothing on food waste. It was a joke – very similar to the US – now I am afraid to say they are ahead of us. In six years they have overtaken the European market, so much so that we are producing containers with glass windows in that have our technology in there and composting technology and they are putting them in residential communities. It is a community imitative. You take your food waste and if you want you can take away the compost that it generates.”
IMC utilises its in-house design and manufacturing facilities to provide a wide range of market-leading solutions from highly efficient waste compactors through to organic food waste processing and composting.
It is able to reduce dry waste down to one-sixth of its original size and reduce the volume of food waste by up to 80%.