New report from Just Eat and the Sustainable Restaurant Association notes that while restaurant food waste is up during the coronavirus lockdown, takeaway consumers' attitudes towards food waste is showing signs of improvement.
Takeaway restaurants are generating 25 per cent more food waste during the coronavirus lockdown as they cater to unpredictable ordering patterns, according to findings published today.
A new analysis from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and takeaway service Just Eat highlights how the average cost of food waste produced weekly in takeaway restaurants in the UK has risen to £148, up from £111 pre-lockdown.
More than half the restaurants surveyed by Just Eat in April pointed to unpredictable fluctuations in customer ordering patterns as the main reason for an increase in food waste.
The spike in waste from takeaway food during the lockdown amounts to a £16.7m worth of excess food waste overall, according to a figure crunched by the partners that assumes that all 65,000 restaurants in the takeaway sector have remained open throughout the lockdown.
"No business in its right mind wants to see its core product end up in the bin, especially not when it's costing almost £400m a year and contributing to a carbon footprint larger than the global aviation industry," said Andrew Stephen, chief executive of the SRA. "Now is an opportune time for operators to review their menu, simplify processes, and design out waste."
Just Eat said it intends to provide more data and insights on ordering patterns to restaurants to help them better anticipate fluctuations in demand during the lockdown period. It also pointed to food waste guidance documents published by the SRA and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) that could help takeaway operators waste less.
"Reducing avoidable food waste is one of the easiest ways we can tackle the carbon footprint of takeaway meals and make a positive impact on the environment," said Robin Clark, Just Eat's director of global restaurant services and sustainability. "With food delivery services more vital now than ever and restaurants operating on tighter budgets, it feels like the right time to help our partners tackle the food wasted in their kitchens."
In more positive news, today's findings also suggest that once takeaway meals have reached their final destination, they are being consumed more conscientiously by consumers.
Before the lockdown, a Kantar survey commissioned by Just Eat revealed nine per cent of the food delivered through takeaways was thrown away. But a follow-up study undertaken during the coronavirus outbreak reveals the level of waste has shrunk to just over seven per cent.
Nearly 60 per cent of respondents in the latter survey said they have better oversight over how much food is wasted in their household since lockdown began, and more than 80 per cent agreed with a statement that stockpiling and empty supermarket shelves had heightened their awareness of food waste.
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