In the small Oxfordshire village of North Moreton, Patrick Marples, landlord and owner of The Bear-at-Home pub, was struggling with a level of heavy general waste that reached a peak when one bin weighed in at over 200kg. Something had to change and, after talking to his provider, Grundon Waste Management, he adopted separate waste bins for both glass and food.
Since then, his weighty problem has gone away and he has the added benefit of a warm green glow from his newly-established green credentials.
Patrick is the first to admit why they were having problems.
“Our kitchen is quite small and everything went into the same general waste bin. Of course, as we got busier and busier, the amount of waste increased to the point we actually couldn’t move the bins,” he says.
“They were overflowing to the extent that the whole collection process became increasingly tiresome and we were being penalised quite heavily, so something had to improve.”
Although they already segregated cardboard and plastic, Patrick says they knew that discarded glass and the weight of food waste in particular was a big problem.
On the advice of Grundon’s Tracy Richardson, the pub had its first glass bin delivered in March and a second followed a month later.
In May, a separate food waste service was introduced with specialist food waste bins supplied. Food now goes into a green recycling bag in the kitchen, which is then transferred to a separate bin outside.
“It has meant the kitchen staff have to give a little more thought and consideration to how they dispose of waste, but they adapted very quickly and are happy to help make a difference, so it’s working well,” says Patrick.
“It does require a culture change, but I think the fact that food waste is segregated in many homes, means it is something staff can relate to. Also, as the media is always talking about being environmentally friendly and not sending waste to landfill, I think that helps.”
Having already achieved such good results, he has further segregation in mind: “What I want to look at next is how we use that waste food to help us measure performance and levels of waste in the kitchen.
“We cook everything ourselves from scratch, and we recognise there are different types of food waste - meats and fish, returns from the plates, waste oils from cooking and also a huge amount of vegetable waste.
“Clearly the vegetable waste isn’t as offensive and in the future we’d like to be able to treat this differently, perhaps by composting it on site. We see this as a journey, there is always more you can do to improve, but what we have done so far has been a major change and we have benefited in both commercial terms and environmental ones.”
Previously, says Patrick, the fact that food waste went into the general waste bin also meant it began to smell and needed weekly cleaning at additional expense. Now however, he saves money as it only requires a monthly clean, while at the same time, the new 120-litre food waste bins keep both odours and insects at bay.
Patrick and his daughter Lucy have been running the pub, which dates back to the 16th Century, for nearly three years.
With its low beamed ceilings, inglenook fireplace and comfortable seating areas, The Bear-at-Home has become a magnet for both lovers of fine ale and food.
Every summer they stage the North Moreton Beer and Cricket Festival, a highly-popular event that mixes real ale, cricket, good food and live music.
This year’s Festival, at the end of July, saw a “huge volume” of waste says Patrick, and although in previous years it has all gone to landfill, this year he has made a real effort to segregate for recycling wherever possible.
“When the event is on, there’s simply no time to worry about segregating waste so everything went into black plastic bags, but afterwards I hand-sorted the bags so as much as possible could be sent for recycling, which is is both cheaper and better for the environment,” he added.
And when it comes to adding up the numbers, Patrick concludes: “My measure of things is simply how do my waste collection costs compare month on month. In terms of the business, it isn’t a huge component but it is still something I like to monitor as part of the budgeting process.
“Throwing everything in the same bag was not sustainable or rational and financially, this has been a step in the right direction as well as creating the potential to improve further and keep a lid on costs.”
Tracy said: “There’s no doubt that if Patrick had continued down his usual waste disposal route, his costs would have continued to go up and up. We estimate that since implementing the changes we recommended, he is saving up to 20% on his waste costs, and we haven’t had an overweight bin since.
“Managing food waste is always going to be a challenge for restaurants to take on board but Patrick and his team have worked hard to embrace the changes. He has been very positive throughout the whole process and I’m very proud of what they’ve achieved.”