21 Key Statistics on Sustainability and Food Waste for UK Businesses

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21 Key Statistics on Sustainability and Food Waste for UK Businesses

Sustainability has been a hot topic in business for some time, with most businesses keen to reduce their impact on the environment, or at least have this as part of a longer-term business strategy.

For hospitality businesses (often one of the leading sectors contributing to environment-impacting topics such as food waste, carbon emissions and high energy usage), sustainability is regularly top of the agenda.

Yet knowing how to tackle sustainability, and drive actionable change, isn’t always easy amidst a busy business environment where every day faces its own set of operational challenges.

In this guide we’re not here to preach (to the converted) about why sustainability is something hospitality businesses should care about. But we are here to collect the very latest data that will be relevant to you while running your hospitality business. Here, we share 21 up-to-date statistics on sustainability and food waste in the UK hospitality industry. 

Food Waste Trends and Statistics within the UK

Food waste statistics in the UK

1. The UK generates around 9.5 million tonnes of food waste per year, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

2. Of that 9.5 million tonnes, the UK hospitality industry alone produces 1.1 million tonnes of food waste annually.

3. Guardians of Grub reports that 18% of food purchased by the hospitality industry is thrown away, and 13% of this wasted food is still edible.

4. The three primary causes of food waste in UK restaurants, pubs and bars are preparation (45%), spoilage (21%) and customer leftovers (34%) based on findings from CPD Online College.

5. Restaurants in the UK throw away the equivalent of 320 million meals per year (Willshees).

6. According to the latest statistics from the UK government, 4.7 million people were living in food poverty between 2021 and 2022. That’s 7% of the UK population. 

The cost of food waste on the UK Hospitality Sector

7. Food waste costs the hospitality sector a total of £3.2 billion every year, averaging a total of £10k per outlet annually (WRAP).

8. The average UK hospitality business spends £50,000 a year sending, organising and transporting wasted food to landfill sites according to a study by Keenan Recycling.

9. The same study shows that by recycling and reusing food before it goes to waste,  hospitality businesses could save up to £7000 per year. 

The environmental impact of food waste 

10. UK food waste generates 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year through decomposition, according to research by WRAP.

11. The 9.5 million tonnes of annual food waste creates and releases 36 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere per year.

12. According to a report by WWF, 2.9 million tonnes of edible farm produce is sent to landfills, incinerators and waste treatment plants.

13. Food waste also wastes water. The UK government reports that it takes a total of 100 buckets of water to create one slice of bread, 54 to rear one chicken breast, six to grow a single potato and one to grow one tomato - all of which are wasted in the process of throwing out food.

14. The hospitality sector is responsible for 15% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions according to a report by NetZeroNow.


Changing waste and sustainability trends in the UK

15. The UK government has set a target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions in the hospitality sector by 2025.

16. The Environment Act of 2021 in the UK aims to eliminate food waste in landfills by 2030. The government has also pledged to halve food per capita food waste in the UK by 2030. 

17. Statista’s 2020 findings report that 63% of customers would be very likely to try a restaurant’s most sustainable dish when dining out if they knew about it.

18. 84% of hospitality businesses stated they’ve made sustainability improvements following the 2021 COP26 conference held in the UK, according to a report by Nespresso. A further 72% said they intended to prioritise their sustainability strategies within their businesses in 2022.

19. 73% of hospitality businesses expressed support for a law that would make food waste reporting mandatory for large and medium-sized businesses, despite it never being passed. 

20. In the Race to Net Zero Report published by NetZeroNow, over 40% of hospitality industry leaders want to see more collaboration across the industry to meet the challenges of meeting net zero requirements. 30% want more government funding in the form of schemes, grants or tax incentives and 10% want more regulation on implementation.

21. According to research conducted by Biffa and YouGov as part of their larger sustainability report, 50% of hospitality businesses already utilise food waste as a metric to measure their sustainable progress. 

growyze: helping you implement sustainability at an operational level

Reducing food waste and becoming more sustainable are clearly top priorities for the UK hospitality sector. One of the key steps to reducing food waste and implementing more sustainable practices is by mastering inventory management. Eliminating unnecessary losses from stock expiry, spoilage and inefficient ordering can help your bottom line while reducing food waste.

That’s where we come in. At growyze, we’ve made inventory management a breeze, so you can confidently run your back of house operations without losing focus of your larger growth, revenue and sustainability goals. 

Book a demo to discover how we can transform your inventory management process, for better sustainability.

Give growyze a try for yourself

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