FOOD waste management may not be the most glamorous part of operating an on-trade outlet, but it’s every bit as vital as any other aspect of business, with failures in this area having serious consequences – both in hygiene terms and in the eyes of the law.
With this in mind, firms specialising in waste management and recycling say there are steps operators can take to ensure they handle waste correctly.
Scottish waste regulations require businesses to segregate paper, card, plastic, metal and glass from their general waste.
And, from last year, businesses producing more than 5kg of food waste a week must have that separated and collected as well (unless excluded by a rural location).
Many food businesses in Scotland are facing a stringent tightening on food waste regulation.
Carl Fletcher, head of leisure and supply chain at waste management firm Biffa, said that the lower 5kg limit put in place last January (the limit was previously 50kg) has resulted in “many of the circa 12,000 food businesses in Scotland” facing a “stringent tightening of the requirements to segregate food waste”.
Fletcher also highlighted how important it is for operators to comply with this legislation.
“Scottish SMEs could be putting their reputation and cash flow at risk if they do not comply, with potential pitfalls ranging from fixed penalty notices of £300 from SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) right up to £10,000 fines in the magistrates court for repeated nonconformance – a key point that a third of businesses were not aware of.”
Taking a similar stance, Vincent Igoe, managing director (Scotland) of recycling specialist Olleco, added that as well as hefty fines, failure to comply with food waste rules could also result in waste no longer being collected, an unlimited fine (on conviction of indictment), as well as other issues.
“Reputational damage is also likely,” said Igoe.
“Operators who can’t comply with simple recycling regulations are probably not complying with [other] hygiene and compliance legislation designed to protect their customers.”
To avoid this, Igoe reckons staff training is key to 100% compliance.
He advised training staff “to ensure they understand where waste streams go and why”.
Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, agreed.
Measure and monitor your food waste to understand where it’s coming from.
He said there are several ways operators can encourage staff to improve their food waste practices.
“Raise awareness with your staff, by providing appropriate signage, training and incentives to keep food waste to a minimum,” said Gulland.
Effective stock management, and a strong food ordering system, are also key to reducing waste, said Fletcher of Biffa.
“Without these procedures in place, over ordering is likely, resulting in the disposal of food before it even leaves its packaging,” said Fletcher.
Igoe of Olleco reckons that working with a professional waste management firm can also pay dividends, with these companies able to tailor solutions to an individual business’s needs.
“A good food waste recycling company will offer detailed training to an operator’s staff and provide clearly labelled food waste bins so that food waste can be easily separated from general waste,” said Igoe.