Unilever calls on companies to tackle food waste mountain

Unilever is asking other companies, trade bodies and public sector organisations to join its campaign to tackle the 400,000 tonnes of avoidable food waste that is discarded every year.

WRAP estimates avoidable food waste costs the hospitality industry around £722m a year through wasted ingredients and labour, out-of-date foods, consumer leftovers or rising disposal costs.

Unilever said it has already formed a "visionary panel" along with other waste bodies to identify measures that could help reduce food waste, such as landfill bans, changes to the planning system, or altering portion sizes in restaurants.

However, the company maintains that the most effective means of curbing waste levels is through the education of those organisations, such as hotels, caterers and schools, that can save money by minimising and managing waste.

Unilever's United Against Waste campaign was launched last September along with a free Wise up on Waste toolkit to help businesses deal with the problem. It has since been downloaded by around 360 organisations in the UK and Ireland.

Last month it unveiled an interactive video wall for operators to share achievements delivered using the toolkit and exchange best practices.

In one video, a pub owner describes how a waste audit cut the vegetable bill by £20 a week and significantly reduced the amount of food waste coming back on customers' plates.

"We're trying to say it doesn't have to be big, drastic changes," a Unilever spokeswoman said. "It's the small things that will really make a difference."