Is there a missing ‘food waste’ category in the hospitality industry?

a chef chopping vegetables with a large knife and a marble chopping block

Huw Crampton, sales manager and food waste expert at Tidy Planet, shares his thoughts.

Food waste in the UK hospitality sector

There always seems to be a steady stream of noise in the media about how much food waste is produced in the UK, and specifically in the hospitality sector. However, what’s often not being recognised is that a huge percentage of the waste that gets reported isn’t actually ‘food waste’ at all – yet it’s still given the same label.

Preparation waste is what it really is. This can include vegetable peelings and stalks, poultry bones, fat trimmings, pineapple heads, fruit skins – the list goes on. Whereas food waste is cooking five dishes, when you only need one, and throwing four away.

When delving deeper into the statistics, it’s reported that 1.3 billion tonnes of food waste is generated globally every year. And in the UK alone, hotels are reported to produce 79,000 tonnes of food waste annually.

But this isn’t exactly true, as some of this isn’t ‘waste’.

Therefore, to truly reflect the food waste levels within the sector – and more widely across the world – preparation waste is a separate category that needs creating. And someone should be championing this and driving it forward.

When is food waste not food waste?

Ultimately, if a site produces preparation waste, it is a sign that it is buying in fresh or more local produce. Or in the case of organisations such as Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons or remote island hotels like Gili Lankanfushi, they are growing a lot of produce on site.

Hotels shouldn’t be penalised for adopting a sustainable approach.

And if a hotel generates low volumes of ‘food waste’, that waste is actually created in a different sector – supply and production or farming – so there’s no reduction in waste. It just happens to be included in someone else’s statistics – this is certainly the case when it comes to buying pre-prepared vegetables, for instance.

Furthermore, we don’t call cardboard or glass a ‘waste’, it’s a recyclate. So, why are we referring to food waste as such?

We don’t throw away cardboard and glass, we send it for recycling – and under the new Environment Act legislation that comes into force this year, that’s now the same for food. So, shouldn’t it be labelled differently?

Maybe material that can be sent for recycling by commercial-scale composting or anaerobic digestion (AD) should simply be called ‘organics recycling’?

Whatever the wording, with the new food waste regulations determining how England’s food-producing hospitality businesses are able to dispose of their food waste compliantly, now seems the perfect time to instigate such a terminology change.

Hotels compost on site to reduce waste and boost sustainability

There are many hospitality organisations that are recycling their food and preparation wastes, and other sites could look to them for inspiration.

Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons, The Torridon, and Gili Lankanfushi are just a few of the luxury hotels that have closed the food waste management loop on site — and are reaping the environmental, ethical, and financial benefits of doing so.

This is because on-site food waste composting not only allows luxury hotels, resorts, and island getaways to reduce their waste disposal costs, but it supports them in achieving sustainability goals, and satisfying ever-evolving guest expectations, too.

And with hotels across the sector keen to prioritise their environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies, on-site composting of food – or preparation – waste is an effective way to decrease their carbon footprint and make their operations more sustainable.

To find out more about our reliable and robust food waste recycling equipment for hotels, or to learn how our Rocket Composters could help your resort, please call our sales manager, Huw Crampton, on +44 (0) 1625 666 798 or email