DIVERSIFIED services provider Sodexo says it has successfully trialled LeanPath, an innovative food waste monitoring system, in a two-month pilot.
Following the pilot, the firm has implemented LeanPath on a permanent basis at eight of its higher education sites. It is also awaiting approval at several other sites and is being included in new business bids.
WRAP, which supported the pilot through the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement, estimates the UK hospitality and food service industry wastes 925,000 tonnes of food a year, the equivalent to one in six meals served, and that 18% of food purchased in the sector is thrown away.
How it works
LeanPath is an electronic smart meter which enables kitchen staff to track, monitor, and reduce food waste using a tablet device. The database allows kitchen staff to select food from 70 different categories and then to select the reason why it was disposed. It also gives the financial value of the wasted food immediately.
Sodexo ran the food waste pilot at three of its sites in the defence, university and corporate services sectors. The sites saw a 23 gram reduction in food waste per cover during an 8 week period which represented a 16% reduction in waste. The trial revealed the potential to save approximately 8.3 tonnes of waste and to save £25,000 in food procurement costs per annum across the three sites.
Paul Bracegirdle, Sodexo’s environmental manager explained the approach: “Food waste is a huge issue for the food service sector, but with the right approach and techniques it is an issue that we can start to address. By driving greater awareness of the volumes of food that we are wasting and the financial value of that food we can start to get our people thinking differently and making changes, day-in, day-out.
“The great thing about LeanPath is that is gives us a very clear understanding of what food is being wasted, why and at what cost. The granularity of this data means that our teams can produce tangible actions to combat food waste at their sites, for example cook less of certain dishes or look at portion sizes.”
In the UK and Ireland, currently 43% of Sodexo sites are recovering food waste. The business’ target is that 60% of sites will recover food waste by 2016.
The LeanPath pilot is part of a wider Sodexo programme on food waste. In October Sodexo announced that it had signed an International Food Waste Coalition with Ardo, McCain, PepsiCo, SCA, Sodexo, Unilever Food Solutions and WWF, in order to drive progress and create awareness on this issue.
Taking steps to reduce waste
Sodexo also recently ran its annual WasteLess Week, a campaign during which Sodexo sites across the UK took active steps to reduce their waste and raise awareness of the importance of doing so on an ongoing basis. The internal competition for the best WasteLess Week activity was awarded to Sodexo’s team at Colchester Garrison. During the week they worked to reduce waste from several resource streams including organic waste, energy management (gas and electricity) and carbon dioxide from vehicle fuel.
Dr. Richard Swannell, director of sustainable food systems at WRAP said: ‘Food waste is a significant problem in the sector and a lot of good work is being done to tackle it. I am pleased to see Sodexo driving innovation in this way. The trial shows that food service companies have a great opportunity to reduce food waste and achieve even more efficiency, and save money.’
Andrew Shakman, Co-founder and CEO of Leanpath said: ‘We are very excited to partner with Sodexo on this important initiative to prevent food waste. We introduced the industry’s first tablet-based food waste smart meter in the US nearly two years ago, and Sodexo was the first to deploy it in the UK. We’ve seen many sites in the US reduce food waste by 50% or more, and we look forward to seeing the impact that Sodexo can make in fighting food waste with behaviour change tools and analytics.’
Sodexo has made a global commitment to reduce organic food waste in the Better Tomorrow Plan, the firm’s sustainability strategy to 2020. Reducing food waste is one the key interventions Sodexo will employ in order to reach a carbon reduction target of 34% in the same time frame.