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When it comes to sustainability FMs are well aware of their key role in tackling the prevalence of single use plastic in non-commercial buildings. But there’s another no less urgent sustainability issue that again puts facilities people in the hot seat – food waste.
An FMJ feature looks into the problem of food waste within the hospitality and food services sector and uncovered some startling statistics. Across the hospitality and food service sector (Source: WRAP) nearly £3 billion worth of food is wasted every year, of which 75 per cent could have been eaten. And it isn’t just a matter of food being thrown away that could have been eaten, this waste has a knock-on effect on climate change. A third of all food produced is lost or wasted, which the IPCC estimates contributes up to 10% to total man-made (anthropogenic) GHG emissions. In fact, if it were a country, food waste would be the world’s third largest emitter after China and the USA.
This means caterers, FM providers and client side FMs are working hard to reduce the amount of wasted food at work and within the hospitality sector, and importantly if it does need to be disposed it needs to be done in the most sustainable way.
In fact, according to Simon Biggs of the consultancy the Litmus Partnership, who has sat on the Steering Group for WRAP food waste can be a great source of renewable energy. The eco-friendly way of disposing of food waste is through Anaerobic Digestion (AD). This involves the use of microorganisms to break down waste in an enclosed area. The methane emitted is then collected and used to create biogas which can help generate electricity or heat.
It's heartening to learn that caterers are exploring a myriad of ways of reducing food waste, from buying in ‘wonky’ veg which wouldn’t be sold otherwise, to turning waste products, like used coffee grinds and waste cooking oil into biofuel products.
Already, these efforts are making a positive impact. The latest data shows that there has been almost half a million tonne reduction in total UK food waste in just three years – enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall ten times.
But there’s still a long way to go. WRAP warns that many more businesses need to step up their action on food waste to help halve global food waste by 2030. This means that food waste is sure to move up the agenda within the FM sector as an important part of any sustainability strategy.
Article written by Sara Bean, editor FMJ