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Food wastage (2016)

Request

  1. Since the General election of 2015 how much unused food (Food Waste) has been disposed of on a monthly basis?
  2. Is there an estimate of cost of the waste food?

 

Response

Please be aware that the House of Commons and the House of Lords are separate public authorities for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). On this occasion, where stated, some information covers the parliamentary estate and so is bicameral. You may wish to consider forwarding your request to the House of Lords for any costs they may hold.

  1. Since the General Election of 2015 how much unused food (food waste) has been disposed of on a monthly basis
    And
  2. Is there an estimate of cost of the waste food?
    Information about the amount of specific food waste is not held by the House of Commons, but figures for total organic waste, which includes food waste as well as other items such as paper napkins, used coffee and tea, are available. This waste is sent for anaerobic digestion and is used to produce biogas which is then used as a source of renewable energy. Details of the weight of this organic waste sent for anaerobic digestion since May 2015 for the entire parliamentary estate:

Table 1: Organic waste sent for anaerobic digestion (Parliament)
As this waste stream contains many items which have already been sold or are not saleable an associated cost of unused food would not be accurate. However, it may help you to know that the House of Commons does measure the wastage of prepared food items. On average, the amount of prepared food wasted against the amount of food sales is 3%, well below the national average for the catering industry of 5%. Details of the prepared food wastage for the period May 2015 to March 2016 are shown in the table below, broken down by month.

Table 2: Prepared food wastage (House of Commons)

 

It may interest you to know that the Sustainable Restaurant Association has rated the House of Commons as a good practice organisation in respect of food waste. We take various measures to monitor and reduce the amount of food waste from catering outlets. There are a number of ways that we are able to help minimise our food wastage:

  • We have menu plans and cycles which enable orders to be thought out in advance.
  • We make the vast majority of dishes fresh in-house. This enables us to improvise if products need to be used up and we can use short life products in smoothies, soups and salads etc.
  • Stock is regularly counted and order volumes are considerate of stock-in-hand.
  • Dates are checked regularly on ambient food products and any short life products are issued to the kitchens and used up.
  • For many of the high volume protein items, these are ordered by unit rather than weight which makes portion control more accurate and less prone to over ordering.
  • Venue orders are checked by a purchasing team for accuracy to ensure that orders and volumes are accurate and in line with historic figures.
  • Our kitchens make salad items in-house meaning they are able to cook off and utilise any surplus protein products effectively.
  • Stock is always rotated using first in first out principles.
  • We utilise various smart storage methods and materials to help prevent premature spoilage.
  • Some products are frozen if not used on the day.
  • Products which show high levels of wastage are changed, so for example some high frequency/low volume lines are now frozen which enables portion control.
  • Any hot food that we have which is reusable is both transferred immediately where it can be used or blast chilled within food safety requirements and used the following day.

In addition our unsold sandwiches are bagged-up and returned to the supplier on a daily basis once they have reached their use-by dates. We receive a 50% rebate on all unsold premium sandwiches and none of the waste goes to landfill.