Find out changes to our services and advice in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Food waste reduction in your workplace

If you work in an hotel, restaurant, cafe or take-away shop, you can unlock sustainable long-term savings by tackling your food waste. Food waste costs the Scottish hospitality sector £215 million a year.

PKC's Commercial Waste Team can offer support and infrastructure to help you to minimise your food waste (which will save you money) as well as recycling your unavoidable waste as your business re-opens or scales back up after lockdown.

By reducing the amount of food waste that your business generates, long-term you might be able to decrease the number of food waste collections needed from your premises and/or decrease the size of your food waste bin (which will save you money).

Target, Measure and take Action (TMA)

Use this time after lockdown to take 3 easy steps to reducing your food waste:

  1. Set a target for how much your business would like to save
  2. Measure the scale of the problem (by introducing separate bins for spoilage, prep and plate waste to highlight where to focus your food waste reduction activities)
  3. Work as a team so everyone in your business takes action together

Small changes, big savings

Small changes can be implemented easily to help make the most of ingredients, reduce food waste disposal costs, save the hidden costs of staff time and minimise your workplace's contribution to climate change. 1.3 billion meals are being discarded annually in the UK and 1 in 6 meals served in the UK end up going in the bin.

Consider implementing some of the following:

Avoiding food spoilage:

  • Rotate your stock
  • Discounting produce to use up ingredients near their expiry date
  • Tailor your menu to use up ingredients near their expiry date
  • Offer special deals on ingredients nearing their expiry date or that you have a glut of
  • Review storage temperatures
  • Talk to suppliers about the ingredients that they recommend and consider local produce with lower food miles and potentially less packaging - and buying direct from the farmer
  • Forecast your customers' demand and only cook food to order
  • Introduce a clear ordering system so that your food business has a record of previous orders for comparisons

Reducing waste at the Food Preparation stage:

  • Keep the skins on vegetables such as potatoes
  • Utilise all the product
  • Consider using pre-prepared ingredients
  • Formalise recipe instructions
  • Build in ingredient cross-over to your recipes so that substitute ingredients can be used
  • Use the same ingredients in multiple recipes
  • Remove less popular dishes from your menu and offer a smaller menu - there may be less choice but you (and your customers) will be valuing your food more.

Reducing plate waste:

  • Watch the plates coming back into the kitchen - these will show you what foods are consistently being wasted
  • Reduce portion sizes
  • Reduce the size of the plate
  • Make garnishes optional
  • Grow your own, even small scale such as herbs - they are tastier and can be picked only when needed
  • Have smaller side options
  • Provide Good To Go boxes for leftovers

Useful resources

As part of their Food Waste Reduction Business Support, Zero Waste Scotland is offering free virtual assessments to businesses who are looking to cut costs and reduce their food waste.  With funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland is offering this online service as businesses continue to be affected by coronavirus distancing restrictions. To find out how Zero Waste Scotland's Food Waste Reduction Business Support can aid your business, visit their business support webpage or email

Explore Zero Waste Scotland's Food Waste Toolkit for resources including the 7 day food tracker forms, food tracking calculator and posters to help you measure the source of your food waste.

Consider signing up to Zero Waste Scotland's online food redistribution match-making service to enable food to be rescued which would otherwise be wasted.  The food match-making website connects food suppliers who have surplus produce (including restaurants, cafes and other commercial food businesses) with organisations who will benefit from the food. 

Further information

To find out more about how your food business can become a Guardian of Grub, listen to Zero Waste Scotland's webinar which helps businesses to tackle food waste.  Alternatively, contact the PKC Commercial Waste Team for more help and advice. 

Contact details

Commercial Waste Team

Pullar House, 35 Kinnoull Street, Perth, PH1 5GD
Tel 01738 476476