A NEW drive against food waste being pioneered in Edinburgh aims to make it normal for restaurant customers to take leftovers home after a meal.
Diners who find they can’t manage everything on their plate will be encouraged to take the uneaten food away with them in special “Good to Go” doggy bags.
And bars and restaurants are being offered a free “food waste audit” to help them cut costs and reduce their carbon footprint.
Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) estimates that restaurants in Scotland currently throw away the equivalent of one in every six meals they serve.But it says if they routinely offered doggy bags, they could stop the equivalent of 800,000 full meals going in the bin every year.
It describes tackling the scale of wasted food as “an economic, environmental and a moral imperative”.
ZWS is rolling out a scheme, which includes three bars in Edinburgh, where customers are offered the special “Good to Go” compostible containers to take their food home in.
Hemma in Holyrood Road, Akva at Fountainbridge and Joseph Pearce’s in Elm Row are already using the containers and Zero Waste Scotland is planning a big push on the doggy bags in the Capital and across Scotland in the new year.
Anna Christopherson, co-owner of the Boda Bar group, which includes the three bars, said she had been shocked at the findings of the audit on their venues. It identified potential savings of over £13,500 per year, amounting to almost 19 tonnes of food waste.
Ms Christopherson said about 90 per cent of the waste was food left on plates by customers. She said: “We thought we were already pretty good a t cutting out waste, but we were shocked by the plate waste. It’s not until you measure it that you can do something about it.”
She said the bars already offered some dishes with large or small portion options, but other measures now being considered included giving people less in the way of extras.
She said: “If you look at the things that come back it’s often salad or bread, so we could still give people these things but not so much – and we could tell them if they want more they can have it.”
She said the bars had always had takeaway boxes for doggy bags, but now actively suggested to customers they might like to take the leftovers home.
ZWS said research showed customers were keen to be offered doggy bags, but two-fifths were too shy to ask.
Iain Gulland, chief executive of ZWS, said: “Boda is a great example of a small business that’s really tackling the issue of food waste head on – and we’re calling on other Edinburgh businesses to do the same. Reducing food waste is an economic, environmental and a moral imperative – and it also represents a real cost-saving opportunity for businesses.
“Having had the full scale of their food waste highlighted by our audit, the benefits for Boda were clear. I would encourage other small businesses to commit to tackling food waste in 2018 a New Year’s resolution that will really make a difference to the bottom line, and the environment.”