Tackling Food Loss and Waste

Photo by Joshua Hoehne from Unsplash

The 29th of September 2021 is the UN International Day of Food Loss and Waste. To understand this issue further we spoke to 2019 BBM Scholar Jarrard Martin about what he’s doing to help ensure the clean future of the Australian Hospitality.

“As a chef, I believe it is very important to look at the sustainability side of things and to consider different processes in the kitchen environment.”

“Restaurants produce a huge amount of waste. About 62% of waste from restaurants is just food waste, everything from the food being prepared and processed, only using certain parts of a product rather than considering the “whole” use of a product, packaging of a product, storage of produce after prepped, chemicals used and wastage from the restaurants’ customers. It’s a very ugly scene if it’s not looked after and the right initiatives and programs are considered.”

“For example, when I first started at Cafe Giorgio, I was blown away at the amount of single-use Containers we went through and the price per month we paid for those containers. I think we were going through about 500-600 every 3 weeks, which was insane! We were spending roughly $600 on single-use containers every month, which would be used once to store food items and prep and tossed out.”

“The solution I implemented was to purchase Reusable “Tell Fresh Decor” Containers. They seem expensive at first glance, but in the long run it’s much cheaper.”

“Right now, at Georgios, my Sous-chef Nathaniel and I are looking at other ways to minimise our waste and be more sustainable in the industry and workplace; a few things we are considering are:

Better Work-Life Balance for our chefs and ourselves – “Chef Sustainability, trying to reduce burnout and increase productivity, is a thing many places don’t seem to consider a problem or issue, but it’s a very large one within our industry and always ignored.”

Plastic wastage in the kitchen – “We currently waste a substantial amount of plastic and money on sheets of plastic for our pizza dough, which we are now looking at thin Food Safe PVC sheets to do the job instead, which can be reused if looked after well.”

Using most leftover food scraps from processing in other dishes or in a stock – “Since the owner has allowed us to create our own menu from scratch for the first time, we have made a balanced menu, with less wastage throughout, using items in stocks and making most products from scratch.”

Takeaway containers – “We are looking to use completely biodegradable containers after we open, we are currently using a mix of bio-degradable and plastic for takeaway, but are looking at options for fully bio-degradable takeaway containers.”

Consider energy usage – “We try to do multiple oven jobs at the same time or on the same day to reduce the amount of energy we waste on the oven running throughout the day, so when it is not needed, we can switch it off.

“Some initiatives I would like to follow are:

  • Ewater Systems – These systems use salt and an electrolyser to separate the ions formed, producing oppositely charged solutions that can be used for a range of cleaning and sanitising jobs in the commercial kitchen. This would remove about 80% of our current chemical usage that are not biodegradable, and save a lot of money in the long run.
  • A Compost Bin Service – rather than dispose of the majority of customer and kitchen wastage into general bins that end up in landfills, it would be great to implement a compost food wastage bin system that reduces that amount greatly.
  • Ozharvest – it would be nice to be able to get our kitchen cost to reduce by a substantial amount where we are able to do initiatives like Ozharvest and cook and donate 100 or 200 meals every week or so.

“Sustainability in the kitchen is a massive issue. It is not taught well enough at TAFE and the government does little to entice businesses to implement sustainable practices. The weight of the problem is on individuals who care to push and do something about this massive issue that could be reduced dramatically.”

“I believe the government should look at implementing programs or business grants for businesses in the hospitality industry to partake in programs by implementing a tax cut or offset for their business. Most business owners won’t consider half of the programs available as they are too expensive or are an “unnecessary” cost to their pockets.”

“A great program I became aware of recently was “Future Food Systems” in Melbourne. This building, set up as a self-sustaining environment, creates zero waste. It’s some really cool stuff.”

Jarrard Martin is a 2019 BBM Scholar, committed to the UN Sustainability Goals 3, 4 and 8. Read more about Jarrard’s plans for his scholarship and his vision for a sustainable hospitality industry here: https://www.bbm.asn.au/jarrad-martin/


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