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by Craig Pryce September 16, 2022

Let’s make no skin or bones about it – food waste is a significant problem in the UK. According to WRAP, we throw away 9.5 million tonnes of fit-for-consumption food annually. Households are responsible for 70% of this, while the remainder is attributed to producers, hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, and other commercial businesses.

Solving the national food waste crisis can’t be fixed overnight. However, businesses who regularly handle and dispose of food need an effective waste management system. Choosing the right commercial kitchen bin plays a big part in controlling food waste. 

What is the definition of food waste?

Food waste (or food loss) occurs at all stages of the food supply chain. However, in this article, we’ll focus primarily on the daily food waste challenges facing businesses with a commercial kitchen.

In this environment, food waste is food that’s suitable for eating but is consciously discarded by chefs after the food goes off or past its ‘best before’ date.

However, ‘best before’ dates shouldn’t be confused with ‘use by’ dates. Best before dates refer to food quality rather than safety, meaning there may be a drop-off in colour, flavour, or texture of the food if the said date has expired. You can still sell or redistribute the food, or even use it as animal feed, but the kitchen responsible needs to ensure it is safe to do so.

On the other hand, it is a legal requirement for foods past their ‘Use by’ dates to be treated as waste. Commercial kitchens are not allowed to use, sell or donate foods that fall into this category.

Common causes of food waste in commercial kitchens include overstocking of food, kitchen inefficiency, a lack of portion control, and being unable to dedicate time to tracking food waste.

Why is a food waste management system important?

Kitchen waste can accumulate quickly. There’s waste at every step of the food industry, especially in businesses that rely on their kitchen. As soon as the daily produce arrives, waste must be disposed of correctly. Kitchens need to throw away food packaging or containers such as cardboard, tin cans, and foam wrapping. They then move on to food preparation – peeling potatoes, trimming fat off meat, etc. And what about those leftovers on the plate after guests finish dining? 

Food safety and delivering beautiful plates of food might be at the top of your agenda. However, how you deal with food waste directly affects a kitchen team’s overall efficiency.

Poorly managed food waste can threaten hygiene levels and cleanliness through contamination incidents, overflowing bins, food spillages, and trip hazards. 

Benefits of reducing food waste

We’ve already touched upon the time and energy kitchen staff can lose by navigating their way around health and safety flags due to kitchen waste not being swiftly dealt with. However, reducing food waste isn’t just good for overall productivity and keeping your kitchen spick and span. 

The benefits of cutting out food waste are far-reaching. It reduces your environmental impact by and diverting food away from landfill. By donating excess food, you can boost your organisation’s reputation and, even more importantly, help to fight hunger and support local communities. 

Coming up with food waste solutions is also profitable as you will save on labour through more efficient processes. Additionally, you will save money if your food-related business only buys the necessary products. Think about it, less food equals more money. This also ties in with keeping a close eye on portion control – are you delivering a plate of food that customers can realistically finish?

Ways to reduce food waste in your commercial kitchen

As a food business operator, you must ensure systems are in place to secure food waste and dispose of it properly. Here are some best practices you can implement to keep your food waste down and your kitchen hygiene standards high:

  • Eliminate waste and rubbish from food preparation areas as you work.
  • Regularly clean your large kitchen bin with hot water and a few drops of tea tree oil or lemon juice, then leave to dry. Lemon juice is a natural odour remover that keeps your bin refreshed and kills any germs. 
  • Pedal bins offer hands-free disposal and are practical for preventing the spread of bacteria, particularly in food preparation areas. If a staff member carries large amounts of waste to the bin, they don’t have to struggle to open a lid.
  • Once your internal kitchen waste bin is full, you must transfer it outside. Here is where a large outdoor waste container comes in handy, especially if your business produces large volumes of food waste. Remember to transfer your food waste in a bin liner to reduce odours and avoid spillages pooling at the bottom of your external wheelie bin.
  • Look for an outdoor bin that’s easy to clean and made from durable and weather-resistant materials. A tight-fitting lid is also essential as it keeps the surrounding environment clean and stops pests such as birds and rodents from helping themselves to the contents. 
  • Colour coding is another effective waste management strategy for combatting food-related waste. You can use different colour bins to simplify waste segregation as part of your food waste strategy. For example, you could use a green wheelie bin to recycle empty bottles and jars and a brown wheelie bin for food scraps destined for the compost heap.

How often should kitchen bins be emptied?

You should empty internal food bins before they overflow. Get your staff into the habit of emptying your bins whenever the opportunity arises to keep your kitchen free of hazardous waste and harmful bacteria.

Outdoor bins (such as wheelie bins) tend to have far larger capacities. Their size negates the need to empty the bin frequently. However, it’s still important to periodically hose them down or use a cleaning service, such as the one offered by Wheelie Bin Solutions.

Keep your outdoor bin(s) in a designated area easily accessible for staff and ideally not too far from your kitchen. If the bins are in a prominent area, consider fitting a wheelie bin lock for added peace of mind. 

Knowledge is power when it comes to saving your food. Educate your team on how to prevent food waste, and don’t hesitate to contact your local council to check if you are disposing of food waste correctly. 

If you need a commercial kitchen bin to help you organise and tackle your food waste, get in touch with Wheelie Bin Solutions today.

Craig Pryce

Craig Pryce

With over 17 years of experience in the waste and recycling industry, Craig is passionate about making recycling easier and reducing the negative impact of litter. He has been the managing director of Wheelie Bin Solutions (WBS) since January 2016, and prides the company on his expert knowledge, top-quality products, and customer service. His proudest moment was when WBS supported the 2012 Olympic Games, working in partnership with Contenur UK to supply over 9000 bin containers to all Olympic venues. Craig is always keen to share his knowledge, so whether you need advice about the benefits of a wheelie bin lock, or ideas for alternative uses for your wheelie bin, Craig will ensure your recycling and waste disposal habits are gold medal worthy.