Welcome to the new side of StorrCupboard. Still food waste, still me but some wider sides of the story.
On Monday 20th May, I was the very happy guest of the Sustainable Restaurant Association at the launch of their new #foodwastebadwaste campaign. Can you imagine why I was interested? The room was packed, it was hot, and, for a Monday morning, the audience were engaged and excited to talk waste reduction. I know! I talked bin collection and data. Heaven.
SRA: Who dat?
Unless you’re in hospitality or sustainability, chances are you won’t have heard of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. A non-profit, The SRA helps restaurants, cafes and bars to improve their sustainability (yes, the clue is in the name). This doesn’t just mean your local café banning plastic straws and coffee cup lids; we’re talking Pizza Hut, Wetherspoons and Nandos, along with smaller and (yes) more gorgeous places like Petersham Nurseries and Daylesford Organics. It means proving that sustainable choices can be positive economic choices. It’s change from small to large, influencing decisions and creating a more sustainable food system.
Their new initiative gives organisations a tool-kit to make cutting food waste simple and measurable. It will help businesses to reduce waste and save money. But what sort of solutions are needed? Surely canny chefs are amazing at not wasting anything, right?
Cut the cheese
I am a fully paid-up member of the ‘read bread sourdough home-cooking’ brigade, so when Pizza Hut started talking I reminded my inner food snob to quiet down. I’m so glad I did. Through thankless work including looking through bins and collecting endless data, Pizza Hut has cut cheese waste in half. Half. That’s right. In half. Milk and cheese have a high carbon footprint. Reducing that amount of waste, at that scale, makes a sizeable impact.
There were smaller players, too. Hawksmoor is a high-end steak restaurant with 8 branches across the UK. Their servers are trained to take orders carefully, maybe suggesting a cut of steak that is better quality, though lower weight and therefore the same price. So you’ll pay £27 to enjoy 200 grams of Chateaubriand rather than 300 grams of porterhouse. Your pleasure can come from better quality rather than grams in your belly. Ordering more carefully and knowing you can add dishes to the table later is a simple way to enjoy your wonderful meal out and avoid food waste. Helping other businesses to share best practice across the sector will make for quicker and more sustainable change, through help from the SRA.
Ben Elliot, the government’s food waste champion, sent us off with a mission. Each household wastes around £600-£700 a year in binned food. 10.2 million tonnes of food are wasted each year. We waste carbon enough for every 3rd car to be taken off the road. With #foodwastebadtaste rolling out to the hospitality industry, change is being made easier. Your next meal out? Don’t over-order; buy better, buy less. Make your choices count.
NOTE: I was gifted the ticket for the conference.