Taste Not Waste: Case Studies

Anglia Ruskin University

In February 2018, Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) partnered with Cambridge Sustainable Food to promote a food waste campaign across the university: ‘Food Waste: Sort It Out!’ The campaign aimed to reduce food waste and improve recycling, keeping food waste out of landfill and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

ARU is already making great progress on sustainable catering, providing vegetarian and vegan menu options and getting creative with leftovers to minimise food waste. All disposables are plant-based instead of plastic; staff and students receive a 15p discount on hot drinks if they bring their own mug, ARU-branded Keep-Cups are on sale and all food waste and plant-based packaging can be recycled. 

‘Food Waste: Sort It Out!’ encouraged staff and students to consider ways to reduce food waste associated with food spoilage, preparation and plate waste. Attention was also drawn to the food waste bins and how to separate different types of waste correctly to maximise recycling.

By separating and weighing the food waste from catering, the chefs were able to recognise that preparation waste was the area requiring most attention. Before the campaign, there was 37kg of food waste from food preparation, 9.5kg of plate waste and no food spoilage waste over a three-day period. 

As a result, Terry Hope (Head of Catering) and David Haw (Chef Manager) challenged their team to examine and rethink waste from food preparation. Simple changes like minimising waste from veg prep, using offcuts for stews and soups and choosing pre-prepared vegetables enabled the team to reduce food preparation waste by 66%, saving 25kg of food from being wasted! Recycling of food waste also improved significantly, through staff and students learning how to separate food and other wastes correctly.  

ARU are continuing this great work through challenging chefs, staff and students to reduce and recycle even more food waste. They are sharing their success and developing new initiatives, as well as encouraging a dialogue both internally and with other universities to share ideas and best practice.

Cambridge Cookery

With around one million tonnes of food being thrown away by UK hospitality and food businesses each year, current practices can waste precious natural resources and divert good food away from those in need. To show its ongoing commitment to sustainability, the team at Cambridge Cookery joined the ‘Taste Not Waste’ programme run by Cambridge Sustainable Food (CSF). As a result, the cookery school and neighbourhood café and bistro is proud to have become the city’s first zero-food waste café.

For Cambridge Cookery, established in 2008, sustainability has been on the agenda for a long time. Whether for their café menu or their culinary classes, ingredients are sourced from local, organic and small-scale suppliers, supporting local growers and the community.

In order to reach zero food waste, Tine adopted a counter-intuitive approach. Instead of trying to resolve the issue of their own very modest amount of food waste, she took the decision to become the hub for locally grown, organic produce about to become waste or pigs feed. By taking in tens of kilos of superb, organic, locally grown but no longer absolutely fresh produce, and adding to it her own business’s small amount of waste. This has made it possible for their chefs to create thirty cooked meals for Jimmy’s homeless shelter every Friday.

In addition, the team work closely with a number of charities and schools in Cambridge, hosting fundraising events and donating food to people in need. They are also reducing their packaging waste through serving tap water and selling reusable cups to customers. In recognition of their commitment and progress, they were awarded CSF’s Silver Sustainable Business Food Award last year and are already on track for a Gold Award.

In November 2018, Cambridge Cookery joined CSF’s ‘Taste Not Waste’ programme, which offers hands-on support to restaurants, cafes and food outlets across the city. Supported by Cambridge City Council and WRAP, the scheme helps businesses measure and reduce their food waste, enabling them to cut their environmental impact, save money and attract new customers, who are increasingly looking for eco-conscious food outlets.

Over a three-day period the team worked together to measure their daily food waste. To everyone’s delight, the results showed that the amount of food that was being thrown away was minimal and consisted mainly of inedible parts like egg shells. Cambridge Cookery achieved this excellent score through existing practices which use surplus food in a range of creative ways.

As well as using left-over ingredients from their kitchen and suppliers to cook meals for Jimmy’s homeless shelter, the team make cakes and other inventive dishes using spare veg like parsnips. The cafe and bistro also offer many dishes in a choice of sizes, as well as takeaway boxes on request, to reduce the amount left on customers’ plates. The very small amount of unavoidable food waste is separated and sent for composting through Cambridge City Council.

As a result of their participation in the ‘Taste Not Waste’ scheme, the café and cookery school’s team have adopted a food waste policy which sets out their commitment to maintaining their zero-food waste status. In December 2018 they were also the latest local company to become an accredited Living Wage employer. Find out more about Cambridge Cookery at https://cambridgecookery.com.