Waste from commercial kitchens reaches millions of tonnes every year in the UK, and the Government is trying to reduce these figures by giving businesses the responsibility to manage their waste better with the target for food waste to be reduced by 50% by 2030. There are various legal responsibilities for commercial kitchens which are laid out in The Environmental Protection Act 1990, The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011, and Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 as well as Duty of Care Regulations 1991, all of which were made to ensure commercial kitchens comply with how waste is managed.
This includes segregating waste streams, using licensed waste carriers to dispose of waste and ensuring that hazardous waste is stored and disposed of legally. There are fines and prosecution for those who don’t comply with the regulations, for more insight into this area read our blog on commercial kitchen regulations and what you need to know. This blog will look at how to manage waste in your commercial kitchen and what it consists of, in more detail.
What is kitchen waste?
Commercial kitchen waste comes in a vast array of forms and every commercial kitchen has a legal duty of care, to their staff and customers, to make sure that all forms of waste are responsibly removed and disposed of properly. Commercial kitchens need to be designed correctly to ensure that waste is minimised and has a sanitary way of being removed. Kitchen waste includes:
- Food waste – leftover scraps and food that has gone past its best.
- Plastic packaging – bottles, cups and food packaging.
- Glass – bottles and jars as well as broken glassware.
- Cardboard – packaging from deliveries as well as takeaway packaging.
- Chemical – cleaning products and containers.
- Liquids – wastewater, foodstuffs as well as oils and fats.
- WEEE – (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, or e-waste) such as broken appliances.
- Dry mixed items – items such as empty cans, or items with mixed recyclable contents.
Commercial waste collection
Many commercial kitchen businesses have a commercial waste collection service to ensure that their waste is collected and recycled in the most effective way possible. With the support of a professional collection service, many commercial kitchens can meet and even exceed all governmental targets on waste removal and recycling. Managing waste disposal is also vital for ensuring the tidiness, health and hygiene of the kitchen, staff and customers, as waste materials that are not properly disposed of can cause noxious smells and bacteria can cause sickness and disease.
However, without having to pay for a commercial waste service, there are still many ways that you can meet waste and recycling regulations in your commercial kitchen business.
Five ways to reduce waste in your commercial kitchen
Different kitchens may well employ a variety of ways to dispose of waste in their kitchens but here are a few basic ways to reduce waste and make sure that any refuse is properly disposed of in line with regulations. Effectively managing waste will help to earn your business a reputation for being clean and also environmentally friendly, which is a not-to-be-underestimated goal.
1. Food waste
Keep this in a separate area from the food preparation zones to prevent any cross-contamination. Where possible consider having a composting bin for biodegradable waste items that can be recycled into the biosphere to replenish gardens or green spaces, although staff will need to be aware of which food items cannot be composted – as these can then attract rats or other undesirable pests.
- Portions – Consider the sizes of your portions, if customers are frequently not finishing the amounts of food that your kitchen is serving, it is worth reducing the size of portions being served to prevent wastage.
- Leftovers – Find creative ways to use up leftovers – for example, turn leftover vegetables into a soup rather than throwing them out.
- Charities – Consider connecting to charities that take leftover foods to feed those who are in need, such as the Food Bank or Too Good To Go, where food can be used rather than thrown away when it is approaching its use-by dates.
- Other options – Implement systems to reduce the volume of food waste such as dewatering units that reduce food waste volume by up to 80% or introduce on site food digestion systems.
Have a coloured bin system for different types of waste that can be recycled. Many waste items from commercial kitchens can be sent to recycling centres to be repurposed or recycled. Cardboard, glass, plastic packaging and empty cans are all prime examples. With different coloured bins in the kitchen and ensuring that staff are on board with how to recycle these items, you can drastically reduce the amount of rubbish that would be sent to landfill. Other items such as e-waste appliances and broken knives or other utensils can be taken to a municipal recycling centre, where such items can be broken down and properly recycled.
3. Grease traps
If your commercial catering outfit is preparing foods where grease or fats are likely to end up in the wastewater, then fitting a grease trap is essential. Not only is it a legal requirement, but a grease trap will also ensure that any Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) products are removed from the wastewater outflow to be correctly disposed of – and won’t cause blockages in the sewerage systems. A professional company can install grease traps either inside or outside your commercial kitchen to ensure that you remain compliant with legislation and prevent costly breakdowns in the wastewater flow outlets, or prosecution and fines for non-compliance with legislation.
4. Food storage
Make sure that all food items are stored correctly and at the right temperatures. For example, meats should be stored separately from dairy products and at the bottom of fridges to prevent any cross-contamination. Dry food items should be in airtight containers and separate from other food items. The correct temperatures will ensure that foods don’t go off before their use by dates – saving unnecessary wastage.
Hygiene is of paramount importance in any kitchen, but especially in a commercial one where many customers expect the highest levels of hygiene in the preparation of their foods. All staff must be trained in health and hygiene and every commercial kitchen should have a robust system and routine for guaranteeing the cleanliness and hygiene of the kitchen, and all food preparation areas and machines. Regular cleaning should be supported with servicing and maintenance of appliances to make sure that they remain clean and functioning correctly.
How Abraxas can help
Many of the above are not just a suggestion but a legal requirement, and commercial kitchens have to manage their waste to prevent prosecution and fines, but also because it builds a reputation for the company of being clean, healthy and environmentally friendly. Abraxas offers service and maintenance plans to ensure that your appliances are kept clean and functioning effectively – saving you money in costly downtime or broken machinery – but also meeting legislation for hygiene standards.
With decades of experience in the food service industry, our team is also eminently qualified to offer advice on your waste management systems within your kitchen, should you require support in getting set up.
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We are a company with proud roots in Worcestershire and we provide our service, maintenance and gas safe services throughout the Midlands. Our design, installation and project services are provided across the whole of the UK, take a look at the map to see just a few of the projects we have completed.
Abraxas specialise in commercial kitchen and servery counter design and the supply of commercial catering and foodservice equipment. We are a family run business based in Kidderminster, Worcestershire and employ our own engineers. We take a genuine pride in the services and products we provide to all our clients from a County Council to a small café.
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