Food waste Q & A

Neil Grundon, Deputy Chairman, discusses all things food waste with the editor of Wastelines, Grundon’s waste management and recycling publication:

Neil Grundon, deputy chairman, Grundon Waste Management
Neil Grundon, deputy chairman, Grundon Waste Management

Ed: Why is analysing your food waste so important?

NG: It’s especially important in areas such as canteens or fast food outlets where the emphasis tends to be on how much food is sold, as opposed to how much is returned uneaten. If you’ve outsourced your in-house canteen to an external company and can measure the food waste output, then that’s a good indicator of the quality of the food and how big the portion sizes are. If there’s very little waste everyone will be happy, but if the food waste mountain is increasing, that could tell you the food isn’t very good or they are simply serving too much. This is valuable information that can help the future contract process as well as encourage businesses to be more environmentally conscious.

Ed: Why are you appealing to owners and managers, not the chefs themselves?

NG: Of course the chefs and all the kitchen team have a role to play, but this is a culture that needs to be led from the top. Unless senior staff take responsibility for managing waste then that doesn’t filter down to the employees. There are plenty of owner-manager smaller food outlets which have grown up with a “waste not, want not” philosophy but, as the business expands, it’s easy to forget those principles. We say it’s time to go back to basics.

Ed: Won’t a separate food collection be more expensive?


NG: No, in the longer term, it’s actually going to be cheaper. Separating food waste will always increase its value and brings everyone a lot closer towards the holy grail of zero waste.

Ed: You draw analogies with the manufacturing and hospitality trades, but aren’t they very different?


NG: The core skills are very different, but the same principles can be applied. You wouldn’t see a manufacturing company which couldn’t measure how much it throws away – the food sector should be able to do the same.

Ed: What’s your view on food banks?


NG: We think they’re a great idea. If there is nothing wrong with food then it is immoral to throw it in the bin. If you can’t discount the items for sale, then distributing it to food banks should be the next priority. Disposal must be the final resort.

Ed: Should England follow Scotland and Wales and ban food waste from landfill?


NG: We do support a ban, but with some degree of flexibility for the hospitality trade. At the back-of-house we totally agree, there should be rigid enforcement for separation of food waste, but we recognise that it’s very difficult to implement the same system front-of-house. For example, if a customer only eats half a beefburger, they’re not going to take it out of the packet and throw the food and container into separate bins, and we have to acknowledge that.

Ed: You recently invested in the new Trumps Farm AD facility. Would you like to see more AD plants?

NG: We’re in a unique position in that all our depots have access to a network of AD plants and we have the capacity available to ensure our customers’ food waste goes to AD. Across the country however, we recognise that there are areas where more plants are needed andno matter how much improvement there is on food waste, there will always be a requirement for them.

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