Subscribe to our free fortnightly newsletter and stay ahead with the latest news in HE

Waste not want not

Matt White, Chair of TUCO, discusses the environmental impact of food waste in the HE sector

Posted by Hannah Vickers | April 26, 2017 | Catering & hospitality

Waste has emerged as one of the defining sustainability issues of our modern food system. Research shows that the foodservice and hospitality industry alone disposes of 920,000 tonnes of food waste every year, of which 75% is avoidable. With food waste costing on average £250m a year in the education sector – an area which already operates under tight margins – taking a few simple steps to reduce food waste has the potential to make an enormous impact on university catering departments. At TUCO, our members are leading the way in sustainable practice and are implementing their own innovative food waste reduction initiatives, which match the demands and requirements of their institutions and student population. By taking a proactive approach, many TUCO members are seeing increased profitability through simple yet effective methods such as adjusting portion control, growing their own produce and imbedding new CSR values into their working practices.  Take Swansea University, for example, which conducted a review of its catering operations to identify the key factors contributing towards its food waste levels. The results included the over-filling of plates and preparation of too much food. By reducing the size of its service plates and batch cooking closer to serving time to determine customer demand, the university saw a 20% reduction in food waste, translating to a total of £9,500 in yearly savings.

Manchester University developed an award-winning food waste reduction scheme following the results of a survey of ‘catered’ students. The results found that 88% would use facilities to recycle food waste if they were made readily available. In response to this, the university introduced a food waste-only recycling system, which is then treated and used to produce gas for energy and fertiliser for crops. 

I believe the future of sustainability is bright, with many organisations already looking to the WRAP Courtauld 2025 voluntary agreement as a stepping stone towards widespread food waste reduction schemes. As an industry, we produce greater results when we work together and are lucky to have a strong network of individuals willing to bring about change. The innovation and knowledge sharing that is currently taking place around food waste solutions in the higher education sector is a great example of this. Of course, there is still a long way to go, but by working together caterers can develop best practice when it comes to reducing their overall impact on the environment and combating food waste.” 

For more information, please visit tuco.org

Subscribe to our free fortnightly newsletter and stay ahead with the latest news in HE

Related stories

Enactus - entrepreneurship at the heart of education

Securing a sustainable HE

Winners announced at TUCO Competitions

Southampton crowned Enactus UK National Champion

Bringing environmentally-friendly drinking water to HE

Think global, act local - the power of collaborative working

Nottingham Uni to build sustainable research facility

How to negotiate the perfect contract

The educated choice for energy saving

AUDE honours estate management sector with annual awards

Market place - view all

Ellucian

The leader in higher education technology. Ellucian delivers the s...

Arkivum

Arkivum provides data archiving services to a range of industries ...

Fujitsu

Fujitsu provide information technology solutions for businesses inc...

Meru networks

Meru began with a vision that sooner rather than later most enterpr...

Synel Industries UK

With rising student expectations and demands, integrated and stream...

Taplanes

Located in the village of Nidd, Taplanes began life as a subsidiar...