The 10 facts about food waste every business owner needs to know

business food waste

Does your business produce food waste? 

It’s one of the areas which is now most scrutinised by the government and the public, with large-scale efforts over the past few years to reduce the amount of food waste the UK produces.

Farms, growers, food manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and hospitality businesses all need to look at their surplus food and waste figures.

As we strive to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and increase recycling or re-using of waste, businesses must become more sustainable and look for innovative solutions.

Here are our top 10 facts about businesses and food waste

1.  The UK government plans to introduce a requirement for waste businesses to report annually on food surpluses, and its proposed resources and waste strategy says businesses should participate in initiatives to reduce avoidable food surpluses.

2. The UK food industry wastes 1.9 million tonnes of food waste every year, the waste campaign WRAP says. This ranges from farmers and growers to restaurants, wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers, and food service companies.

3. 250,000 tonnes of the wasted food are still edible – that’s 650 million meals. This surplus food is often thrown out because of a short shelf-life, labelling errors, or over-production. This happens at every stage of the process from farm to table. In retail alone, up to 110,000 tonnes is still edible. The UK government’s waste hierarchy says people and livestock must be fed with it before it is used for composting or energy generation. Disposal must be the last resort.

4. A total of 9.5 million tonnes of food waste was generated by UK households and businesses in 2018, with a value of more than £19 billion. That waste is associated with 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

5. Surprisingly, 40% of food waste in the hospitality industry is in the form of carbohydrates – 21% of that is from potatoes, 12% is bread, and 7% is pasta. All those bread rolls on the table and bowls of chips?

6. Between 2007 and 2018, the UK saw food waste after the farm gate reduced by 15%. This follows several large-scale initiatives to prevent this waste.

7. Food manufacturers reduced their food waste by 350,000 tonnes between 2011 and 2018, that’s a drop of 21%. Retail food waste dropped by 5% over the same period.

8. Businesses increased the supply of surplus food to charities between 2015 and 2018. Charitable food redistribution increased by 180%. That equates to 21,000 tonnes or 50 million extra meals.

9. Sending food waste to landfill is an expensive way of dealing with it as landfill taxes are around £89 per tonne and you’d also have to pay gate fees. It also creates the build-up of gases such as methane in landfill sites which can be dangerous.

10. Food waste could be generating energy instead. Anaerobic digesters can turn it into green energy, as bacteria break down the organic matter without oxygen and generate a biogas which is trapped and used to generate heat or power.


Does your business need advice on handling its food waste send us a message and we will get you a quote sent out.

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