Dr Richard Swannell discusses the latest HaFSA figures

You’ve just published interim data on the Hospitality and Foodservice Agreement on waste (HaFSA). What are the headline findings?

Richard Swannell: The interim results compare the figures reported for 2014 with the baseline figures. This shows a continued good collective performance by signatories against both the waste prevention, and waste management targets.

CO2 equivalent (CO2e) emissions are used to measure the impact of the waste prevention target, which looks to cut the amount of food and packaging waste in the sector by 5% by the end of 2015. The results show a steady rise towards this, reaching 3.6% against the baseline by the end of 2014.

But there is always some waste that isn’t preventable; so the second target aims to increase recycling of packaging waste and the use of composting and anaerobic digestion to treat unavoidable food waste. The combined recycling rate rose from 45% to 57% at the end of year two, which represents an increase of 12 percentage points.

Are businesses well on track?

RS: The waste prevention target has seen a particularly strong performance again. The results show 30,000 tonnes of CO2e and 15,000 tonnes of waste have been avoided through hard work from the signatories. We estimate the cost savings from reducing food waste alone are around £3.6m.

Where is more work required?

RS: There is still some way to go to increase the overall rate of food and packaging waste recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion or composted to 70%. The waste management target is more challenging to achieve in the relatively short period of time due to the fact that in some instances waste management contracts will need to be amended or re-tendered to improve recycling rates. But we are hopeful it will be achieved and we’ve seen good progress to date.

Food waste redistribution has increased, but seems to be a very small amount. What can be done to increase this level?

RS: HaFSA signatories demonstrated a 47% rise in the amount of surplus food being redistributed compared with the baseline figure – growing from 360 to 528 tonnes is an excellent achievement.

It’s great that more surplus food is being used to feed people, rather than going to landfill and there is certainly scope to do more. There are many organisations that can help support the donation of surplus food. For example, Plan Zheroes, who are supporters of HaFSA, will match your business with a suitable local charity able to receive your surplus food. We have also produced a set of guiding principles to help make this process simpler.

How many businesses have signed up to the commitment now? What proportion of the sector as a whole is this? Is it enough?

RS: At the launch of the HaFSA there were 70 signatories and supporters covering 14% of the UK sector, by food and drink sales. Overall signup has grown and there is strong support from across the sector. There are now nearly 230 leading signatories and supporters covering around 25% of the UK sector by food and drink sales including distribution.

We are delighted with the drive industry has shown in getting behind the HaFSA. Momentum has grown each year, helping drive real change on the ground. A lot of collaboration has taken place with signatories and supporters, for example developing online training resources for the Hospital Caterers Association and Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

This year HaFSA will be replaced by Courtauld 2025. What is it?

RS: The Courtauld Commitment 2025 is an ambitious 10-year voluntary agreement that brings together a wide range of organisations involved in the food system. The aim is to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable and build on the work of the Product Sustainability Forum; and the successes of both the current Courtauld Commitment (for supermarkets and food manufacturers) and HaFSA.

By working together and setting ambitious goals we can drive innovation and collective change. There’s a role for everyone within the food system and a range of partners will play a part – from manufacturers, retailers to local authorities and community groups. We hope to see many hospitality and foodservice businesses continue to build on the work on the HaFSA and join the Courtauld Commitment 2025 to help build a stronger and thriving food and drink sector, based on sustainable practices. The Courtauld Commitment 2025 launches in March 2016.

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