Aggressive cost-cutting measures could halt sector-wide improvements in waste management among kitchen operators, the industry has been warned.
Food waste costs the industry around £2.5 billion a year, but experts are concerned that ‘value engineering’ threatens the ability of operators to manage the problem in the most effective way.
Steve Witt, managing director of IMC, said that in his experience, dealing with environmental issues, such as food waste, is complicated and requires engineered solutions which are relatively expensive.
“Unfortunately, it seems that these solutions are frequently the first to be dropped as soon as somebody involved with the project mentions the dreaded words ‘value engineering’, often purely as an excuse to cut costs,” he stated.
Mr Witt fears that such tactics prevent operators from getting the benefits available to them and hold back improvements in waste management technology,
“Let’s be honest, the decision as to whether an environmental solution is selected or not is more often down to cost and cost savings! At IMC most operators we talk to want to reduce the cost of both handling and collecting food waste. This process should start as soon as the kitchen orders its food for the week and we have worked with sites who have reduced their purchased food costs by 10%, before even looking at the issue of food waste,” he said.
Mr Witt insists that solutions offering up to 80% reduction in food waste collection costs, while adhering to all known local waste and drainage regulations, are the “here and now” and “don’t need to cost the earth”.
He added that the biggest challenge facing the waste management industry during 2017 was “confusion”.
“Legal waste stand points are being twisted to suit the situation whilst waste bans are being used in an attempt to force sales when there is no basis for such claims in certain countries. In short, there is no clear message from the industry or its trade bodies,” he said.