Zero Waste Week: What are pubs doing to cut back on food and plastic waste?

It’s Zero Waste Week, a campaign that aims to help householders, businesses, organisations, schools, universities, and community groups waste less. With an ever-growing concern of pollution, pubs need to adapt to reduce the amount of waste they produce. By implementing sustainable strategies that will reduce their food waste and single-use plastic.

Food Waste

According to the Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the cost for food waste for the average pub amounts to nearly £8000 per year. In today’s current climate, pubs need to reconsider solutions that will reduce this amount which will not only reap drastic financial benefits for the business but environmental ones too.

In a previous article concerning this issue, the Morning Advertiser calculated that the amount of food waste produced from UK pubs equivalates to the amount of CO2 generated from more than 600,000 cars.

“Every year more than 500,000 tonnes of food is wasted in restaurants, pubs, hotels and quick-service restaurants in the UK – that’s the equivalent of almost 1 billion average plates of food.” – (Wrap).

However, it is encouraging to see that the pub industry is taking action. A survey carried out by the BBPA based on 10,000 UK pubs found that all had trained their staff on food waste and 86% were now offering smaller portion sizes to reduce food waste.

It was also found that 78% of pubs surveyed considered it ‘important’ to reduce food waste and 22% said ‘very important’.

To read the full BBPA report click here.

Reducing Plastic

Food isn’t the only waste we need to be aware of. Plastic is another major issue. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) reported that plastic bottles accumulate to a third of pollution in the sea. The concern is that if marine pollution rises at its current rate, the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh the number of fish by 2050.

A comment in The Morning Advertiser from Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), acknowledged some members introducing methods to reduce plastic waste. She said:

A number of ALMR members have already begun to phase out the use of plastic straws; a sign that the sector is acknowledging the issue and ready to lead the way on reducing harmful waste.”

This began with JD Wetherspoon ditching the plastic straws for paper alternatives. Other pub companies to follow suit included Laine Pub Co, Liberation Group, Oakman Inns, Ei Group, Be at One and Brakspear. Greene King also introduced compostable straws to their pubs in August 2018. The reduction of plastic in pub operations, according to the survey carried out by the BBPA, found that 32% of pubs deemed removing the plastic as ‘very important’ and a further 46% saying it was ‘important’.

This is commending since there has been an increase in consumer awareness concerning food and plastic waste impact on the environment. Therefore, this is a good marketing opportunity for pubs to promote their efforts in reducing waste and implement new strategies in their infrastructure which adopt a sustainable approach. Plus, it places them in the market as key innovators in tackling the damage caused by waste products.

Deposit Return Scheme

This year, the Government has been debating introducing a Deposit Return Scheme to the UK. This has already been trialed in Scotland and the aim is to cut down on plastic waste that is incinerated or ends up in landfills rather than being recycled.

Deposit Return Schemes work by charging the customer of bottled or canned drinks a small deposit. The customer can then get their money back by returning the bottle to a collection point for it to then be recycled.

The scheme has been trialed in Scotland and will reduce litter, improve recycling rates and increase the quality of recycling materials. The BBPA has called on the Government to implement an effective UK-wide Deposit Return Scheme that excludes glass. It is argued, that this will be the most effective scheme to introduce to the drinks trade industry without causing too many operational issues.

To find out more about the scheme’s trial in Scotland, visit the Zero Waste Scotland website. Click here to find out more about BBPA’s recommendation to the Government.