Guardians of Grub crusade to beat food waste

13th May 2019
  • Bold new food waste reduction campaign launched at Government symposium to tackle the £3 billion of food thrown away at hospitality and food service outlets.  
  • Call to arms for hospitality and food service sector to find its Guardians of Grub and Stand up for Food month of action. 
  • UK targets 100,000 tonnes less food wasted across the hospitality and food service sector*.

A bold new industry campaign launched today (Monday 13 May) to tackle nearly £3 billion worth of food that is wasted every year across the entire hospitality and food service sector, of which 75% could have been eaten.

The Guardians of Grub campaign was developed by WRAP as part of its ambitious work to cut food waste from farm to fork. The striking new campaign was unveiled at a special symposium organised by the Government’s Food Surplus and Waste Champion Ben Elliot, and attended by senior business figures, the Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Gove, and some of the UK’s most well-known restaurateurs and chefs.

The Guardians of Grub campaign is aimed at empowering professionals from across the hospitality and food service sector to reduce the amount of food thrown away in their establishments. The campaign is aimed at everyone from Michelin star restaurants to local pubs and wherever food is served to order. It is about making simple, low-cost changes to the way food is bought, prepared and served that have waste reduction in mind.

Food Surplus and Waste Champion Ben Elliot, “This campaign brilliantly shines a light on the food waste epidemic. Initiatives like this provide a strong foundation for change. Less conversation, more action. We are all in this together. It’s time to stand tall and work towards a waste-less future.”

A suite of free materials has been produced for the Guardians of Grub, using the latest behavioural change strategies to inform best practice that can easily be incorporated into any business, by anyone. These include information posters and how-to guides, and a free calculator to record the changes being made.

The high-profile launch will be followed by a dedicated month of action in September when the hospitality and food service sector will come together to Stand up for Food. Already many of the UK’s largest hospitality and food service representatives have pledged their support to the initiative, including the BBPA (British Beer and Pub Association), the FWD (Federation of Wholesale Distributors), the SRA (Sustainable Restaurant Association) and UKHospitality

Guardians of Grub has been developed to inspire action at every level of the hospitality and food service profession; from kitchen porter to business owner and across preparation and service. The theme of guardians helps stress the enormous environmental impact wasted food has on the planet, and makes the point that everyone has the power to defeat waste within their work.

The sector itself is responsible for ten per cent (one million tonnes) of the total 10.2 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK each year, with the cost of avoidable food waste varying between 38p and £1 for every meal it serves. Previous research by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and WRAP across 700 companies operating in 17 countries found a high return on investment for activities implemented to reduce food waste. The average business saving, across multiple sectors, was shown to be more than £14 for every £1 invested by a business into reducing food loss and waste. 

Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO; “We will not tackle the impact of global warming if we don’t fix the food system, and everyone needs to play their part. If everyone in the hospitality and food service industry put as much passion into reducing waste as they do into creating delicious food, it would make a massive difference to cutting the damage food waste is doing to our planet. Through this great new campaign, we are showing how everyone can reduce food waste without compromising on quality, or customer experience, and save money. It’s a double win; for the environment and for business.”

Juliane Caillouette-Noble, Sustainable Restaurant Association Development Director. “Food is such a precious commodity and everyone working in foodservice should value their role as Guardians of Grub. We wholeheartedly back WRAP’s campaign to engage professionals, across all roles in a concerted bid to reduce food waste. The SRA will be providing hands-on, tailored and practical support and advice to businesses to enable them to achieve the super-heroic targets worthy of the Guardians of Grub title.”

Kate Nicholls, CEO UKHospitality, “Food waste is a serious issue and one that consumers and businesses increasingly feel passionate about. UKHospitality, our members and the wider hospitality industry also take the issue seriously and we want to make sure we capitalise on our efforts to significantly cut down the amount of food we throw away. Guardians of Grub is a fantastic campaign and we are urging everyone in hospitality to get behind the campaign and help reduce the 1 million tonnes of food the sector currently wastes per year.”

The Guardians of Grub campaign is supported by a dedicated microsite packed with free materials that businesses can use to tackle food waste, focussing on common triggers for waste in the kitchen and plate waste. Research by WRAP found that on average 21% of food waste arises from spoilage, 45% occurring in food preparation and 34% from consumer plates.

The campaign accompanies a dedicated Action Plan for the sector, published by WRAP earlier this year, which sets out specific milestones the sector needs to achieve to play its part in delivering on the UK’s part in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 (to halve global food waste by 2025), and the UK Food Waste Reduction Roadmap. These include action to reduce food waste within preparation and service, and reducing consumer waste.

A new Guardians of Grub video touches on the many environmental impacts of food. These includes the enormous amount of resources, water, land, energy and time required to produce food, as well as methane gas produced through decomposing food waste disposed of in landfill. This gas is thirty-times more harmful on the environment than carbon dioxide, with United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimating that global food waste represents more greenhouse gas emissions than any country in the world, except for China and the United States***.

WRAP is engaged with senior influencers in the sector to help cascade the Guardians of Grub messages outwards to create a long-term industry movement. The organisation is calling on businesses to encourage their staff to get involved, and stimulate participation more widely to Target, Measure and Act to reduce food waste.

More information can be requested from GuardiansOfGrub@wrap.org.uk 

Notes to editor

  • *Between 2015 baseline and 2025 (end of Courtauld Commitment 2025). 
  • **UK businesses involved in WRAP’s original Hospitality and Food Service Agreement saved an estimated £67 million through their combined actions to prevent food waste over the three-year period from 2012 to 2015. Food waste prevention activities alone saved an estimated 24,000 tonnes of food from being thrown away cumulatively over the three years of the Agreement, the equivalent to 48 million meals with a value to businesses of £67 million. 
  • ***The United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization states that more than 1.3 billion tonnes of food are thrown away each year, representing 3.3 billion tonnes in annual carbon dioxide emissions.
  • First established in 2000, WRAP is a not for profit organisation which works with governments, businesses and citizens to create a world in which we source and use resources sustainably. Our impact spans the entire life-cycle of the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the products we buy, from production to consumption and beyond.
Contact

Ian Palmer

PR Officer, WRAP
01295 819 677