RSS Feed

Food Waste – a particularly Irish Problem?

Posted on

We all like to eat out – and we rarely finish all on the plate (it grieves me to say I was taught to always leave something behind – “or they’ll think you were never fed”) – the indication being that by leaving some behind one is rich enough to do so and one doesn’t starve at home.

Ironically it’s a fashion that is relatively new to the Irish. In tales of old the idea of wasting food was seen as something almost criminal – and I don’t mean in famine-times. In an old tale I read once someone threw away a crust of bread and s/he was told that one day ”you’ll follow a crow for just such a piece of bread” !

Personally I hate waste and would eat all before me even if I knew I really didn’t need it – just to avoid waste. Fortunately now we have 5 hens and as we’re vegetarians (though we eat a little fish sometimes) we can feed them all out ‘scraps’ – though they do have to be sharp if the dogs are about. Generally all but Trix, who was twice molested by (strangers) dogs, are well able to fight (nose-peck) their own corner.   To see two hens fight over a length of spaghetti is worth a tonic.

Do you have worms Mister?? We have a vermiculture unit or simply a wormery. I looked at various options and at the time I could only buy kit (expensive) and worms via UK and I really didn’t want to be importing anything as sensitive as worms from a different country. Anyway it meant ‘importing’ to an address in N. Ireland and then driving up and collecting – too much hassle. I got some used shuttering from a building site and cut panels to make a ‘box’ 61cm x 122cm and about 61cm high I lined it with plaster’s gause – used to make rounded ‘corners’ (as anti-vermin shield) and set it on ‘legs to keep it up off the ground – this way I can also keep old oven rays under it to catch the ”worm-tea” that drips out. This needs to be diluted 1:10 or more before feeding to plants. The worms I simply collected as I did a bit gardening and simply popped them in with vegetable waste and garden clippings etc. Any chicken poop found on pavements or car area goes in too as does some of our food-waste – usually after it’s been in a brown(wheelie) bin for a few months and I need to make space. The worms are – usually the stripped-red ones no matter how many earth-worms I put in but they are great for fishing and sometimes when I clear out some of the ”waste” from the bottom of the unit it’s amazing to see huge bundles of worms gathered around something ‘tasty’ – easy way to gather them too. I fork out some of the bottom and put that with fresh waste in one of our 3 compost ‘bins’ these are in fact open at the bottom and two are actually IN the raised beds so at some date when I move them the ground should be very rich.

Article HERE on food recycling – but I prefer THIS one as it first takes off the gas from decomposing food. This gas can in turn power the lorries that collect the waste as well as heating it to the right temps for the enzymes to do their thing. This gas is normally released into the atmosphere as one of the worst pollutants of all – methane.

Lots of figures relating to all waste matters HERE.

Collection of waste veg. oil Europe HERE

Study done on waste veg. oil Algoma HERE.

Waste oil (non-food) collection HERE.


Restaurant Waste Costs €8,840 pa Print E-mail
Written by Frank Corr
Thursday, 29 September 2011 08:51
Since the introduction of new Food Waste Regulations in Ireland last summer, food waste remains a hot topic among restaurateurs. Unilever Food Solutions Ireland commissioned research among 100 Irish chefs and operators via the Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) which shows that Irish restaurants each throw out on average 4.5 tonnes of food waste a year, at a cost per establishment of €8,840. Portion sizing has been identified both by diners and chefs as a serious problem, with 34% of diners saying the reason they last left food behind them when eating out was because the portion was too big. This compares with 27% of diners who left food behind because they weren’t happy with the food.The majority (85%) of Irish chefs and operators are concerned about the amount of food wasted by their business with 71% willing to avail of an expert food waste audit to learn how to manage food waste more efficiently.
Portioning and plate waste is the No. 1 area that chefs and operators want to improve on with 57% of those polled strongly welcoming expert training in this area. 35% of restaurant owners and chefs admit they need to improve in creative cheffing, training staff to be more resourceful when it comes to prepping food and using ingredients so as to reduce avoidable waste.Unilever Food Solutions’ managing director Tracey Rogers delved into the findings: “The phrase waste not want not comes to mind. We know that the Irish Government is committed to moving toward a zero waste society and our actions in foodservice are going to be under the spotlight. We have the opportunity to take the initiative to be ‘United Against Waste’ and with small everyday steps we can reduce waste, respond to consumers concerns, improve kitchen efficiency and also help caterers to save money.“Some caterers are already reducing avoidable food waste very effectively and we have also launched a toolkit for reducing food waste, Wise up on Waste, which will help caterers to make their businesses more efficient. Together we must be united and share best practice so we can tackle the issues head on,” Rogers added. ?

At the event, Unilever Food Solutions launched a waste reduction toolkit, ‘Wise up on Waste’, offering simple solutions for Irish restaurants and foodservice outlets who can monitor and measure food waste and ensure the whole team, both back and front of house, are aligned. It includes a manual waste audit that only takes 10 to 15 minutes a day to complete and is expected to reduce food waste by at least 20% if implemented.

Other research highlights:
The top 5 ‘hot zones’ of food waste in Irish commercial kitchens are:
1.     Customer plates (65%)
2.     Preparation waste (53%)
3.     Bones/fat trimmings that can’t be recycled (40%)
4.     Food that gets prepared but not served (27%)
5.     Food that has been stored in the fridge or cupboard for too long (15%)

–        58% of Irish restaurants currently provide training to their staff on food waste management
–        Almost one in three restaurants (30%) would embrace the new Food Waste Regulations (SI 508 of 2009) more if better tax breaks were linked to the regulations-        41% of chefs and operators believe the introduction of brown bin legislation was a positive initiative to reduce the environmental impact of food waste in commercial outlets –        21% said they are confident the new regulations will leave to cost savings for their business, with 22% saying that the new legislation has already helped reduce the cost of waste disposal in their business Consumer worry

To download the full World Menu Report please go


About pfiddle

Fiddle teacher - mostly Irish trad. Fiddle, mandolin and concertina. Eco-warrior, won E.U. Green Flower Award for Eco Accommodation. Also Irish (Gold) GHA. Green Hospitality Award. Mad keen on self-build - especially straw-bale and cob. 55 with a full head of (slightly) graying hair. No tattoos or piercings. Fond of animals - but legally so. Fond of food - I eat nothing else. Vegetarian by choice, Irish by the grace of birth, Munster by force of (rugby) arms.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: