Restaurants produce five times more food waste than UK households

25/01/2013 - Restaurants have been called upon by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) to reduce their food waste, after the SRA stated restaurants waste almost five times more food than an average UK household.

Hundreds of restaurants have undertaken efforts to reduce food waste, but, the SRA says, an industry average of almost half a kilo per diner is unacceptable.

Research from the SRA shows that the average restaurant produces 21 tonnes of food waste a year, which works out at 0.48kg per diner per meal. Contrarily, research from WRAP indicates that UK households produce 7.2 million tonnes a year, which equates to 0.1kg per meal.

Managing director of the SRA Mark Linehan said that many restaurants are taking this issue seriously, embracing good kitchen practices, offering smaller portions and encouraging diners to take home leftovers. However, Linehan is of the opinion that wasting half a kilo per diner is unacceptable for business, the environment and customers. The industry as a whole must do more, he says.

“Diners and restaurants need to work together and start equating value with quality rather than quantity. Restaurants should also make diners feel more comfortable about asking, and diners should feel free to ask to take home leftovers from a meal for which they have paid.”

The SRA has its own 'Too Good To Waste' campaign, with the aim of raising both consumer and industry awareness about the appalling scale of restaurant food waste, alongside offering viable alternatives for diners and restaurants:

Thomasina Miers, owner of the Mexican street food restaurant group Wahaca, which was involved in the SRA’s Too Good to Waste campaign, said it had reduced the of amount food waste from diners’ plates by 20 per cent since it started offering customers SRA doggy boxes.

In Portugal, the Menu Dose Certa was launched in 2011 to promote food waste reduction in restaurants and raise awareness. Due to its promising approach, this action has been included in the Pre-waste best practices fact sheets. Have a look yourself to see what they did to combat food waste in restaurants.