Keeping food waste to a minimum not only makes good business sense, but it’s the right thing to do. Unfortunately, no matter how careful we are at our kitchens, there are inevitably some leftovers. Here’s what we’re doing about it.
The Waste Hierarchy
This inverted triangle ranks waste management options according to what would be best for the environment.We see it as a good place to start when working out hot to tackle our food waste.
The big advantage of frozen food is it is less likely to be wasted by going off. Our products have use-by dates as long as nine months and so are less likely to be thrown away at home.
We are constantly seeking ways to prevent food waste at our kitchens.We are trying to better measure and then reduce the amount of food wasted at the main COOK Kitchen in Kent and our logistics centre.We have set ourselves the challenge of halving the amount of food wasted at these two main sites by the end of 2020.
By March 2019, we had cut avoidable food waste at the COOK Kitchen by 10% vs the year before. We are now targeting 25% food waste reduction by March 2020 and are working on developing more ways to redistribute surplus food and ingredients.
We are occasionally left with ingredients and excess meals at our kitchen that could be used for other purposes. In 2012 we started sending these to a local charity, Caring Hands. We continue to do so where possible, these days sharing more excess meals. Also on the rare occasion that the meals our chefs cook in our kitchen don’t hit our high standards we will sell these at a discounted rate in our stores as chef’s mistakes.
Recycling & Recovering
We currently have a system in place called the Rothenberg that captures and stores food waste from our kitchens. This food waste is then collected to be turned into a nutrient rich bio-fertilizer for farming and renewable energy that is exported to the National Grid.
We began purchasing 100% renewable electricity for our shops and kitchens in October 2017 and we are committed to continue to do so. We know that this switch has helped us reduced our direct carbon footprint by roughly half. The challenge we now face is finding sensible ways to cut our emissions from using gas to cook and using diesel for transport, especially as we grow.
We are working with the Carbon Trust to set Science Based Targets for our direct carbon emissions to keep us in line with limiting global warming to below 2 degrees.