An innovative research project looking at food waste in the Australian hospitality sector is seeking participants.
Watch My Waste is being run at Melbourne’s RMIT University by Dianne McGrath, a food sustainability consultant and former director at the Australian Energy Regulator. She is looking to quantify the amount of food that businesses are throwing away and to help identify why this is happening.
According to the UK waste group, WRAP, food waste costs each British restaurants an average of over £10,650 (> $19,000AUD) annually. This equates to nearly a quarter of the food purchased for the average business’ stock. Wasted food is wasted money to any business, and it also has huge environmental impacts.
Accurate figures for food waste in the Australian hospitality sector are currently unknown.
“We started recruiting for Watch My Waste earlier this year, and recruitment is open until mid-2016, when we will commence analysis of the full data set,” said Ms McGrath.
She is looking for cafes, restaurants, catering businesses, hotels and pubs to sign up to take part in the project.
“The primary aim of the research is to quantify how much food waste the Australian hospitality sector throws away, and to see if the simple process of paying attention to it helps decrease its volume, and the consequential costs to the business as well as environmental impacts,” explained Ms McGrath. “This is the theory of reflexivity, where once you start to measure something it begins to change.”
In the research project, participating businesses spend a short amount of time assessing their food waste and complete a business operations survey.
Although in the early stages of the project, the research is providing interesting insights on food waste from business kitchens.
“Our early results inform us that even though businesses spend between 25-39 per cent of their expenditure on food, only 22 per cent of participating businesses had ever done a food waste audit in the past,” said Ms McGrath.
“The amount of food that businesses are throwing away everyday is hundreds of grams per cover every day – that equates to hundreds of kilos of food a day for a single business in many instances.”
Businesses can sign up to participate for free on the Watch My Waste website.