Opinion: It’s time to get serious about waste

IMC’s Waste Station is designed to reduce the volume of food waste by up to 80%.

IMC MD Steve Witt believes that the foodservice equipment supply chain needs to engage with end users on food waste and stop ignoring the subject:

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I am perplexed by the industry’s complete lack of engagement with the subject of food waste management. All kitchens produce waste and in this circular economy, we all need to ensure we contribute to the management or eradication of food waste.

And yet, despite this, some of the biggest manufacturers in the industry have had no new product development within the waste sector for more than 5 years, whilst still actively promoting their green credentials. Surely the industry can no longer sit by and be fooled by this masquerade?

As manufacturers we can educate consultants and dealers on the available products but the key to tackling the issue is to ensure that they, in turn, educate the end users. And they need to do it soon.

Let’s not pretend that England is going to adopt anything other than an updated version of the regulations introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland (soon to be Wales) – where food waste to drain has now been banned and every food business producing over 5kgs of food waste each week is obliged to pay for a separate food waste collection. It is not the cheapest way to approach this subject but it’s the right thing to do, and for the next generation of caterers, what legacy do we leave if we ignore the subject?

The industry needs to start engaging with businesses in England on the whole subject of food waste, and consultants and dealers need to be taking the lead now by future-proofing their projects and making sure they are compliant with the regulations that are looming on the horizon.

Sadly, I fear that until legislation comes in waste management systems will continue to be regarded as a ‘luxury’. I know that there are many consultants and dealers out there who do build waste management systems into their projects. What I fail to understand is why it is always the waste management system that is the first thing to be dropped when the project cost needs to be trimmed and somebody inevitably utters the dreaded words ‘value engineering’.

It’s all too easy to cast waste management aside when in reality the savings to be had in terms of reduced waste collections, storage and labour costs would not only cover the cost of the system itself in a relatively short period of time but also deliver tangible benefits to the environment.

An effective waste management solution need not cost hundreds, or even tens of thousands of pounds, and there are even options that allow an existing system to be upgraded rather than going to the expense of stripping it out and replacing it.

The key here is the sharing of data and information between the operator and the solution provider with the goal of implementing an effective waste management system. Coupled with the right training and education, this will provide a compelling argument in favour of waste management so that ultimately there is no reason not to implement a solution that not only saves a business money, but also enhances it environmental and social responsibility credentials.

Furthermore, there is a real opportunity for dealers and consultants to make a name for themselves by becoming champions of waste management and thereby putting themselves at the forefront of the debate before any legislation comes into place.

However, let me be clear. As a manufacturer we are just as responsible as our dealer partners and consultants. After all, how can they sell the responsible message to end users and win the argument against VE unless we educate them on the solutions that we are able to provide? But in order for that to happen, somebody needs to start a serious conversation about waste that involves manufacturers, dealers, consultants and trade bodies such as CESA, FCSI and CEDA. Let’s change the industry together.

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