AUTHOR: Jodie Whitelaw, owner and granddaughter, Iris & June

 

Why did you sign up to participate in Food Waste Bad Taste?

We wanted to understand how much waste we were producing but didn’t know where or how to start. The programme gave us the structure, guidance and support we needed to do this. We enjoyed being a part of a group of likeminded, passionate businesses and individuals who all shared a common goal and desire to do better.

 

Before doing Food Waste Bad Taste what measures, if any, did you have in place to separate/measure/reduce your food waste?

Prior to the programme, we were separating compostables, recyclables and general rubbish. We enforced mindful practices to use as much and waste as little as we could, such as making cheese out of surplus milk from coffee making, ordering only what we needed and running out instead of overstocking perishables and making preserves. However, we didn’t have any process for measuring, recording or understanding how much waste we were producing and how we could make improvements.

 

The programme gave us structure, helped us put systems in place to measure our waste and most importantly formalised our commitment to working towards zero waste which motivated the entire team towards a common goal.

 

 

How did you find the programme – the content, the structure etc

The programme was easy for both front and back of house to understand and implement. The structure and pace of each stage was perfectly manageable.

 

What changes have you made and what have you learned as a result of completing the programme?

Measuring our daily waste has given us the knowledge to see where changes can be made, which is something we didn’t have before. Since completing the programme, we have made changes to our food offering to incorporate more seasonal, local and sustainable produce with more vegan options. The kitchen team are now more mindful of how much prep waste they are creating. There is now an atmosphere of healthy competition as to who can produce the least amount of waste and come up with new and innovative ways to reuse prep waste.

 

In the wider cafe, we now use reusable glass bottles for all our milk and cream deliveries (over 240L per week!) which has resulted in a huge decrease in the amount of plastic waste the cafe was producing. We actively encourage our customers to use reusable cups and lunch boxes and have switched to fully compostable packaging for all our takeaway packaging. Even our toilet rolls are made from sugarcane waste and our cleaning detergents are now planet friendly. Although, these changes are not food waste related, they are direct result of joining the SRA and the Food Waste, Bad Taste programme. We have become more knowledgeable and mindful of the impact we are having on the environment and feel a collective responsibility to make as many positive changes as possible.

 

 

What reduction target did you set and how are you progressing towards that target?

Our overall target is to reduce our waste by 25% by 2030. We have made some good initial steps towards achieving this through the actions we signed up to at the completion of the programme.

 

In the first 8 weeks we pledged to do the following and have succeeded in making these permanent changes:

– we are making more of our own stocks, pickles, preserves from prep waste

– our front of house staff are more aware and more confident when speaking to customers about portion sizes, recommending dishes and suggesting they take away any food left on their plate

– we now ensure all food labels have the day made clearly marked and the kitchen team have the mandate to use their common sense when advising if an item can be kept or needs to be thrown out

– we joined ‘Too Good To Go’ which allows us to sell any leftover perishable food which we can’t keep at the end of the day.

 

Our biggest challenge moving forward is finding ways to redistribute our three biggest food waste offenders – egg shells, banana skins and spent coffee grinds. We are currently investigating businesses we can partner with that will use these items.

 

What advice you would give to a fellow foodservice business looking to reduce its food waste?

Ensure your current waste collector can take separated waste and has the facilities to dispose of food waste through an anaerobic digester. While you and your team are making changes to minimising food waste, at least you know that the waste you are currently creating is being disposed of in the best way possible.

Get the entire team involved and create a mindset that minimising waste is at the heart of the business. Once everyone is on the same page and on board it makes it easier to create positive change.

Measure current waste and set targets. When everyone can tangibly understand how much waste is created, people naturally become more mindful. When they can see that they are part of positive change, it leads to a sense of ownership and pride which naturally fuels the desire to continue making changes.

 

If Iris & June meet their 25% reduction target, they will cut their waste by 2.33 tonnes each year and make annual savings of more than £4,000.

If you’re interested in getting help to reduce food waste in your business and would like to find out more about the Food Waste Bad Taste programme, read on here.