Food waste is a big problem. I’ve already talked about how to reduce food waste in the home, and how important it is. But it’s also a problem in restaurants. According to Big Hospitality, ‘for every meal eaten in a UK restaurant, nearly half a kilo of food is wasted – through preparation, spoilage and what gets left behind on diners’ plates’. Luckily, there are some restaurants that are dedicated to reducing food waste, and using waste in creative ways.
Here are 10 of the best UK restaurants that are passionate about reducing food waste.
1. Poco – this restaurant won ‘business of the year’ in the SRA Awards in 2016 and 2018 – and for good reason! 95% to 100% of their waste is composted and recycled, and the restaurant is always looking at how to ensure that food won’t be wasted. They analyse plate waste returned from the tables to ensure that everything is being eaten – for example, they removed flatbread from a particular dish as people weren’t eating it.
2. Arbor – Arbor is based at the eco-friendly Green House Hotel in Bournemouth, and was named by the SRA as the UK’s most environmentally friendly restaurant two years in a row. A small kitchen with limited storage means that the restaurant receives small, regular deliveries from local suppliers, ensuring that all the food received is used. They also send cooking oil to be converted to biofuel, and what little food waste the restaurant does generate is made into compost.
3. Ugly Butterfly – Adam Handling’s newest site, Ugly Butterfly, encourages a reduction in food surplus through their snack and small plate menus which emphasise the four most-wasted food items: bread, eggs, milk, and bananas. Many of the dishes also celebrate under-used ingredients from the Adam Handling Chelsea restaurant on Sloane Street.
4. Sat Bains – Nottingham’s Sat Bains is a real innovator in terms of food waste. They have a ‘Closed Loop Organics unit’, which reduces food waste by up to 90%. Bacteria breaks down food scraps, and within 24 hours it is converted to nutrient-rich compost which can be used to fertilise soil and help grow more food for the restaurant.
5. Levan – another waste warrior is Levan, an all-day bar and dining space in Peckham that focuses on serving natural wine and dishes inspired by ‘bistronomy’ (a blend of gastronomy and bistro). They repurpose and reuse 90% of waste created in the restaurant. Leftover herb stalks will be made into ferments and infusions whereas old milk will be used to make fresh curd cheese. Even the cocktail menu has been curated by using ingredients from the kitchen garden.
6. Silo – what can I say about Silo that hasn’t already been said? This restaurant is based on the idea of ‘not having a bin’ – this means that it doesn’t produce any food waste. Instead, food is recycled. For example, the on-site toilets are flushed with waste from coffee machines, and unused vegetables are pickled or fermented. If you’re interested in learning more about Silo, read our review of Silo: The Zero Waste Waste Blueprint.
7. The Ledbury – this is a two Michelin starred restaurant that is known for their seasonal dishes, including a tomato salad with basil sorbet and white crabmeat, and the signature brown sugar tart. One way that this restaurant reduces food waste is to donate food to The Felix Project, which is an organisation that collects nutritious, fresh food that cannot be sold. They also try to use the entirety of the animal, such as using the whole body of the sturgeon, rather than just the caviar.
8. Moshimo – MOSHIMO is a sushi restaurant famous for its Fishlove campaign to make fishing more sustainable. They have also partnered with Too Good To Go, a platform that allows people to purchase their left-over food at a discounted price. This simple partnership allowed them to reduce their food waste to virtually zero. They specialise in sushi and sashimi, with the option to have an ‘omakase-style’ meal, meaning that the chefs choose the menu for you.
9. Cafe Van Gogh – a community interest restaurant which provides on-the-job training for people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions, Cafe Van Gogh aims to be completely zero waste. All of their takeaway containers and coffee cups are fully compostable, and all of their seasonal vegan food is composted rather than sent to landfill.
10. The Dairy – The Dairy is a restaurant with a weekly changing food menu cooked on an open-flame Robata. They have a particularly interesting way of reducing food waste. They use the Japanese method of ‘bokashi’, which uses fermented molasses to turn the restaurant’s leftovers – including meat, fish and dairy – into compost.
I’ve also created a list of 10 great micropubs in the UK, and coming up will be a list of 10 restaurants that use hyperlocal produce.