Never let a crisis go to waste

by John Porter
"‘Introduce one change at a time’, as the Guardians of Grub initiative advises, and you can make a real difference to both the planet and your bottom line."
Food waste is one key sustainability issue that pubs are in a position to tackle directly.

For Dave Young, tenant with regional brewer Robinsons at The Ship Inn in Roose, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, that first change was a month-long project to monitor the pub’s food waste. This involved separating it into three bins – for “spoilage”, “prep” and “plate waste”.

Dave says he “doesn’t like to see waste on principle” and having seen food waste coming back into the kitchen on plates, he also recognised the potential to increase his GP on food by cutting portion sizes. While some of the kitchen team were sceptical at first, once the process was under way “they really started to see the point”.

The project found that the pub threw away around 13.5 kilos of food per day, worth an estimated £16.20. Most of this, 66 per cent, was plate waste, including large quantities of chips, garnish and sauces. Another 21 per cent came from prep waste, mainly peelings, while 13 per cent was spoilage.

In response, The Ship was able to reduce plate waste by 67 per cent by offering smaller portion sizes, particularly of chips, and putting out smaller portions of sauce. “Customers were right behind us, and know that they’re welcome to have more if they want it, and only have to ask. The pub also stopped putting garnishes on sandwiches, burgers and other meals.

Spoilage was reduced by 84 per cent as waste awareness among kitchen staff was raised, while a switch to pre prepared vegetables and chips cut prep waste by 80 per cent.

By week four, waste had been reduced by a massive 72 per cent, an estimated annual saving of £2,454, although Dave acknowledges that efforts to keep waste down weren’t top priority when the pub reopened after lockdown. With a new menu launching in January 2022, there will be a renewed emphasis on cutting food waste.