Overview of waste in the hospitality and food service sector

The cost of food being wasted in the UK from the UK hospitality and food service (HaFS) sector is estimated at £2.5 billion per year in 2011, rising to £3.0 billion per year by 2016. This report draws together a number of pieces of research and highlights the opportunities to reduce waste and save money.

Key findings

  • The total amount of waste, including food, packaging and other ‘non-food’ waste, produced each year at HaFS outlets is 2.87 million tonnes, of which 46% is recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion (AD) or composted.
  • Of this, 920,000 tonnes of food is wasted at outlets each year, 75% of which is avoidable and could have been eaten.
  • 40% of food that is wasted is carbohydrates, including potato, bread, pasta and rice. Reduced wastage in carbohydrates would have a significant impact on the total amount of food being wasted.
  • The amount of food that is wasted each year in the UK is equivalent to 1.3 billion meals, or one in six of the 8 billion meals served each year.
  • On average 21% of food waste arises from spoilage; 45% from food preparation and 34% from consumer plates.
  • 12% of all food waste is recycled.
  • 1.3 million tonnes of packaging and 0.66 million tonnes of other ‘non-food’ wastes are also discarded, that includes items such as disposable kitchen paper and newspapers.
  • 62% of packaging and other ‘non-food’ waste is recycled. The highest level of recycling is for glass and cardboard.
  • 56% of packaging and other ‘non-food’ waste that is thrown away could have been readily recycled.
  • In addition to this a further 130,000 tonnes of food waste is generated from the preparation of ready to serve food items and meals for the HaFS sector, at food manufacturing sites.

Read the report