In order to address food waste reduction, the Surrey-based authority conducted research on the problem of food waste and found that for every meal eaten in a UK restaurant, nearly half a kilo of food is wasted, either through preparation, spoilage and what’s left behind on the plate.
Research also showed that 30% of food waste is generated by plate waste, in other words, the food that diners are unable to finish and sending perfectly good food to landfill costs individual restaurants up to £20,000 a year in unnecessary food purchases and waste collection.
Since 2011, the Sustainable Restaurant Association have been leading the Too Good To Waste campaign to raise both consumer and industry awareness about the scale of restaurant food waste, alongside offering viable alternatives for diners and restaurants.
The campaign introduced diners in London to the ‘doggy box’, making it not just acceptable but positive for diners to ask to take their leftover food home to enjoy at another time.
The campaign was a huge success in London, with an estimated 20% or 42,000 tonnes reduction in food waste from dinner plates. This significantly reduced the amount of food waste ending up in landfill and consequently the cost of food waste disposal incurred to participating restaurants.
Using this as inspiration, Woking Borough Council are now encouraging local restaurants to buy a trial amount of ‘bio boxes’ to then encourage customers to take their leftovers away with them if they are unable to finish their meal.
The Council’s aim is to not only help restaurants cut the amount of food waste and the associated cost but also to reduce the stigma customers might have when it comes to asking for their unfinished food to be packed-up to be enjoyed at another time.
Even if the customer cannot finish all the leftovers in the end, the biodegradable nature of the bio box means residents can place them in their food waste caddy as normal to be recycled, completely removing the food waste from the general waste stream.
The Council has produced guidance for local residents about the advantages of using bio boxes and further initiatives being carried to reduce food waste, consistent with this year’s Food Safety Week theme, has seen Woking support the Recycle for Surrey food waste campaign, as well as take part in a number of roadshow events to promote food waste and how residents can reduce waste.
Sarah Mabey, Resource & Recycling Officer for Woking Borough Council, said: “There is such a wonderful selection of restaurants in Woking, it’s easy to get carried away with wanting to try everything, but we don’t think this has to mean creating unnecessary food waste.
“The ‘Too Good To Waste Campaign’ in London was not only a great inspiration, but also a huge success with a whole range of environmental and financial benefits. That’s why we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to promote to our local restaurants too!”