Food Waste Stories

think. eat. save.

Thursday 19th March 2015

Guest blog post by Hannah Ashley

Hannah is the Project Support Officer working on the FoodSave programme. She has a keen interest in sustainable food and farming, in particular the long term environmental impact of food production and consumption.

The Mayor of London’s FoodSave programme works with small and medium food businesses across London to provide a support service that helps businesses prevent food waste, divert surplus food to feed people in need and livestock, and recycle unavoidable food waste. The project is based on the principles of food waste hierarchy, and as it is funded by the Mayor of London, European Regional Development Fund and London Waste and Recycling Board the service is free for businesses to use.


Two delivery partners, Sustain and the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), work closely with a number of different food businesses to provide one to one support. Sustain support manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and market traders to help divert their surplus food to either charities or farms. The SRA work with restaurants, hotels, cafes, pubs and canteens to reduce their food waste in the first instance.


So far, the programme has been an amazing success. Since November 2013, FoodSave has supported 91 businesses with 27 businesses currently receiving ongoing support:


  • 964 tonnes of food waste is being diverted from landfill annually
  • 83 tonnes of food waste is being prevented annually
  • £366,000 of total cost savings is being made annually


To help reduce food waste in the kitchen, the SRA run a detailed waste audit using a piece of kit called the Winnow Waste Monitor System that is installed into the kitchen. This is an electric scale which is attached to an electronic tablet that records the type, weight and value of the food being thrown away that is configured to match the ingredients and menu costs of the businesses. This provides an insight for kitchen staff to see where their waste is coming from (either the kitchen or front of house) and what type of food it is (salads, meats, mains or starters for example).


Once this food waste is visible, the strategies to reduce food waste are numerous. The SRA work with the catering team to create solutions for reducing food waste in their business. For example, reviewing ordering and stock control, preparation techniques and menu portion size reviews to reduce plate waste, which is often a major contributor to food waste costs.


Café Heath, for example, reduced their portion sizes by using an exact measure with a cup or ladle to portion out sides. In turn they’ve reduced their portion sizes but not overflowing the plates and takeaway containers they use. Another example is The Enterprise, which introduced two portion sizes for their pasta/ravioli and the crab cakes as a result of FoodSave.


The Imperial, which managed to save over three tonnes of food and £10,000 pounds a year, has reduced plate waste by regulating portions and changing items that were often thrown away by customers. Their plate waste, as a result, fell by 54%. Kate MacWhirter, Owner of The Imperial Arms, said: “FoodSave has been an eye-opener and has really helped us identify precisely the areas where we were wasting food and enabled us to come up with solutions.”


By the end of the programme, FoodSave aims to support over 200 businesses and are currently recruiting – please see for more information.

Story originally posted on and researched by



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