OPINION: An effective waste management strategy will cut costs and even create revenue streams

Waste bin in kitchen

With a constant stream of news about plastic waste and how it is impacting the whole planet, the challenges of effective waste management among foodservice businesses are set to grow in 2019 as new legislation is implemented around the globe, writes Tricon’s John Downman.

Aany waste strategy must first understand the legislative environment and, importantly, what direction new legislation is taking.

Ensuring compliance with current laws is essential but ensuring you have a plan for the medium to long term is also crucial to your operational success. 

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Regions such as the Middle East may currently have limited recycling in operation, but several countries have established stringent targets for waste reduction that will come into force in the near future and are investing in recycling facilities.

We develop strategies that are based on both eliminating waste and identifying the elements of any waste generated that can be recycled in the country’s facilities both now and in the future.

The knowledge gap

As we all know from our own experience at home, identifying what can and cannot be recycled is a significant challenge.

Rules vary across local government boundaries and the differences between areas can be large. We can address this in the first instance by minimising packaging and waste products in the supply chain of any facility, thereby simplifying the choices required.

After this, education and training are key. Suppliers can improve the recyclability of packaging.

Facility impact

In some facilities, such as stadia, non-waste related legislation can be the driver. No glass can be taken into concourses of football stadia, so drinks must be served in plastic bottles or alternative drinkware.

Drinks in cans are banned as well as they can easily be used as missiles, hence some easily recyclable options may be removed from your range of choices.

Ironically, the can is the perfect container for a drink as it is infinitely recyclable. Reusable drinkware is an area that is seeing growth as deposit schemes and other plans are developed to minimise single-use items and encourage responsible usage by the public.

Location factors

Where you are building a football stadium can also impact you through cultural norms. For example, if you are building in the UK, draught beer is common and acceptable in many venues if you are in Spain or the Middle East, single-use plastic bottles are the norm. This simple difference pushes you in different directions.

Charges for landfill vary greatly so avoiding waste in the first place can help reduce costs significantly. On the plus side, however, some waste products have a value and can become a revenue generator if handled correctly.

This value is increased greatly by the purity of the waste stream, such as the plastic being of a single type.

Operational challenges

There are areas where waste reduction may be at odds with income generation. If you consider drinking water for example, a water fountain will reduce packaging waste caused by people purchasing bottled water, but it will also remove a source of income for the catering operator/ retailer.

In some countries with a less affluent population, such as a recent project we completed in Africa, water fountains were installed as a public welfare facility as a number of people could not afford to buy bottled water.

These issues exist in many sectors such as corporate, sports, educational and health where operators use product sales as a revenue generator.


Ultimately all facilities will have to deal with some element of waste and must plan the handling of this in the most effective way.

This includes considering the volume, types, collection methods, sorting, storage and disposal of the waste. For food and organic waste, de-watering before transportation can reduce the volume by as much as 80%. This reduces the number of bins and thus the overall cost of collection.

Organic waste can also be sold in some countries and waste-to-energy schemes are set to increase. The UK currently exports waste to such plants in other countries but the number of facilities is being increased here as well.

An effective waste management strategy will minimise costs and can even create revenue streams.

John Downman is international project director at Tricon Foodservice Consultants, a specialist foodservice consultancy with 40 staff based in London and Dubai.

Tags : food wasteopinionTricon Foodservice Consultantswaste management
Andrew Seymour

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