Scots and French get tough on food waste

Out with the old and in with the new. There have been New Year’s resolutions aplenty in the world of food waste – at least in Scotland and France.

Scotland continues to lead the way among the home nations in the battle to reduce the scandalous amount of food wasted by hospitality businesses. On 1 January 2013 cafés, restaurants, pubs and hotels that produced more than 50kg of food waste a week woke up to new laws that meant they had to separate their food waste and recycle it rather than send it to landfill.

Last Friday, the law was extended. Hospitality businesses producing as little as 5kg of food waste had to start complying with the same regime. Failure to comply will result in financial penalties rising to a possible £10,000 for repeat offenders.

We agree wholeheartedly with Richard Lochhead, the cabinet secretary for rural affairs, food and the environment, who said: “It will no longer be acceptable to put food waste in residual waste bins, so now is the time to think about the amount of food waste being produced and how it can be reduced – helping to save businesses money.”

Across the Channel, French restaurants are also operating under a new set of food waste regulations. However, after some research by your correspondent, we can reveal that claims in some media outlets that restaurants must accede to customers’ requests for a doggy bag (or gourmet bag as they are calling it), are a little wide of the mark.

The new regulations, known as Grenelle II, do require all restaurants serving more than 180 meals a day to separate their food waste and send it for recycling. While it’s not obligatory for restaurants to stock le gourmet bag, it is now highly recommended as one part of the solution to reducing waste. The best report on this we could find is on this French news website which you can ask google to translate.

The penalties in France are far stiffer than in Scotland. Offending businesses can be fined up to €75,000 and individuals could face two years in prison.

France’s major hospitality union Umih has linked up with a start-up called TakeAway – offering restaurants customisable boxes and bags for diners to take home their leftovers and is encouraging both restaurants and diners to engage in this practice so common in the US.

Having successfully demonstrated five years ago, when 100 restaurants participated in our Too Good To Waste campaign, that diners and restaurants can work together to reduce waste, we’re delighted to see policy makers, albeit across the Channel, putting doggy boxes at the heart of their plans to help the hospitality industry tackle its food waste problem. They’ve also acted to ensure that restaurants bear no responsibility for the food once it leaves the premises.

Finally, how cool is this – turning surplus bread into beer! Check out Toast Ale, which as well as brewing up an incredibly neat solution, also passes its profits to Feedback, the environmental organisation that campaigns to end food waste.

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