Restaurants not pulling their weight on food waste

A new report published this week by Champions 12.3 showed “hopeful signs of progress” towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goal target to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels by 2030.

Some 60% of the world’s 50 largest food companies (by revenue) now participate in programmes that have a food loss and waste reduction target. However, most are retailers and manufacturers. “A major gap in sector coverage is among restaurants and foodservice companies,” the authors of the report noted.

Foodservice companies in the UK throw away 920,000 tonnes of waste a year, of which 75% is avoidable. A voluntary agreement to reduce waste and send more for recycling and composting produced mixed results.

The overall cost to the UK of food waste each year is £17bn, according to the House of Commons Library. And yet there is currently no coherent plan to tackle the issue, other than through another voluntary agreement led by WRAP (Courtauld 2025).

The UK, through WRAP, has led the way on measurement of food waste at a national scale, according to SDG 12.3 update. More need to follow this lead, the authors said, otherwise it will be “impossible to determine whether the planet is achieving SDG target 12.3”.

They found that several companies are measuring their food waste, with a “growing number” reporting publicly on food loss and waste within their operations.

“One highlight of the past 12 months is that a number of companies in the food sector – including Ahold Delhaize, ConAgra Brands, Danone, Kellogg Company, Nestlé, Pick n Pay, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco – are not just measuring but also publicly reporting their food loss and waste inventories, thereby pioneering best practices for the private sector.”

In a report published by the EFRA committee earlier this year only Tesco was commended for its efforts “publishing food waste data from across the supply chain”.

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