United Against Waste (UAW)

Interim assessment of food waste

Avoiding food waste is the goal of United against Waste (symbolic picture).
Imago Images / Panthermedia
Avoiding food waste is the goal of United against Waste (symbolic picture).

Since 2012, the non-profit association United Against Waste (UAW) has been committed to combating food waste in the restaurant and hotel industry. In 2020 the association will present its second interim report on food waste in the out-of-home market since 2017. It is based on data from 720 participating companies. The UAW concludes that a reduction of 30 percent of waste is feasible.

With the first interim balance sheet in 2017, the association laid the data basis for food waste, but there were no useful statistics for the entire out-of-home market to date. The balance sheet 2020 refines the results. "With our interim balance 2020 we have complemented our data and provided further proof that a reduction target of 30% is realistic", said Torsten von Borstel, Managing Director of UAW.

Comprehensive analyses for best practice


Since 2013, UAW has been carrying out comprehensive analyses
in various establishments, such as hotels, company restaurants, schools, hospitals and system catering. More than 720 analyses are now available. Thanks to meaningful average values, UAW provides the industry with orientation and comparison possibilities.
The results allow conclusions such as: Exactly where waste is produced in the companies, where one must start in order to achieve a reduction of food waste, how much waste per meal is produced in which measuring range or what possible reduction targets might be. In addition, the recorded loss of goods is also a new and important indicator. Due to the specified use of goods, the waste costs per kilogram are calculated at approx. four Euros instead of the previous approx. two Euros.

According to the UAW, the majority of the participating companies have gone through two to four measuring periods and achieved significant savings despite minor investments in reduction measures. Andreas Essler, Operations Manager Food at IKEA about the success of the measurements and analyses: "We are now in the 4th measuring phase and have saved 34 percent food waste."

Food waste in company restaurants and system catering

The causes of waste differ slightly depending on the segment. UAW carried out waste measurements in 359 company restaurants. The results show that overproduction (25-55 %) is often the norm and that the range of products on offer is often too large in terms of expenditure. Overproduction therefore offers great savings potential. In addition, a considerable proportion of the food ends up in the waste (25-30%) due to the return of plates by the guests. On average, the 359 company restaurants produced about 108 grammes of waste per meal (status quo waste measurement). In conjunction with the measures implemented, food waste was reduced by an average of approximately 31 percent (range: 10-45 %).

There was also considerable potential for savings in overproduction in 59 of the chain restaurants establishments investigated. In addition, a considerable portion of the food ends up in waste (30-50 %) due to the return of plates by the guests. On average, the 59 restaurants produced about 56 grammes of waste per meal (status quo waste measurement). In conjunction with the measures implemented, food waste was reduced by an average of approx. 34 %.

The interim balance sheet 2020 - including waste analyses with specifically presented loss of goods, reduction targets, environmental indicators and waste costs - is available for download on UAW's website. In addition to comprehensive measurement results, practical reports and concrete solutions for waste avoidance are presented.

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