4 steps to reduce waste and save money for hospitality and food service businesses

Food that could have been eaten, but is thrown away, on average costs a business 38 pence per meal or £10,000 per year. With food costs rising, now is the time to take action.

In this step you will need to work through the following actions:

  • Work out your waste costs
  • Talk to your team
  • Measure your waste
  • Involve your managers

 Work out your waste costs

  • Count or estimate how many bags or bins of food you throw away each week  
  • See how much waste can cost your business. Look at the facts and figures below

Food waste in the Hospitality and Food Service sector

  • Of all the food thrown away in the sector, 75% could have been eaten. This is equivalent to 1 in 6 meals served
  • Take a look at the key figures on food waste in the hospitality and food service sector (infographic
  • Get an overview of waste in the sector (key research findings)
  • Find out why customers leave food when eating out

How much is food waste costing you?

Check out our Taking Action on Waste information sheets to find out where costs are coming from within your business. Click on your sector below.




Quick Service






 Talk to your team

  • Let your staff know how much food is being wasted
  • Look at what sort of food you throw away and why

Measure your waste

Each 240 litre wheelie bin you fill with food waste will cost you around £240. On top of this, the valuable effort that you've put into preparation could have been profit straight on your bottom line.
  • Measure your waste to understand the scale of the opportunity for savings

  • Separate food waste into three bins: storage, preparation and plate waste

  • Use this information to work out where you can save the most money

  • Measure and monitor food waste at each of these stages

Measure different types of wastes by weighing or counting numbers of bins or buckets. Food waste can be heavy, so it's worth using a container that you can lift easily. Don’t worry about being very accurate – the idea is to get an understanding of the main causes and locations of waste.

Collect data over a sensible period for the size of your business - typically recording the number of waste bins filled over a day will be fine.

Repeat measurements daily over a week or a fortnight so that you can capture the impacts of ingredients coming out of storage and menu changes.

This starting point (baseline data) will mean that once you have implemented changes and repeated your measurements you will be able to see the areas where you have saved waste and money.

Food waste tracking sheet: Use this tracking sheet to record the amount of food waste generated in the kitchen 
Recycling tracking sheet:  Use this tracking sheet to record the amount of waste collected for recycling. This will help you to discuss recycling collection options with your waste management contractor.

Involve your managers

  • From your measurements work out with your team where you can find savings
  • Come up with ideas on where you can make improvements
  • Discuss targets to cut waste and how staff can help meet them
  • Get your manager’s agreement and support to make changes

Now take a look at Step 2: Focusing in on savings >>


View all our supporting resources 

View all our supporting resources for Hospitality and Food Service businesses including guides, reports, case studies, videos and online tools.
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