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Smart meter reduces River Cottage waste

Smart meter reduces River Cottage waste
Food waste at a restaurant owned by celebrity chef and waste campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has been cut by a third after a pilot project testing a smart meter.

The River Cottage Canteen in Winchester has spent two months using a smart meter produced by London-based technology start-up Winnow, which helps chefs measure and manage food waste by recording what is thrown in the restaurant’s bins.

The system operates by staff using a touch screen to identify the type of food being thrown away. The weight and cost of what is put in the bin is then recorded automatically, providing an overview of trends and cumulative costs of food waste in the kitchen.

This information is then used to change practices, and the restaurant claims that after two months of using the meter it has cut the value of its food waste by a third.

As a result of the pilot, the restaurant is now salting and preserving citrus peels, has reduced the size of burger buns and adjusted its burger recipe, and partnered with a local organic farm to compost unrecoverable vegetable trimmings.

Lessons learnt from the pilot have now been shared with the three other River Cottage Canteens in the South-West of England.

Hugh's War on Waste

Fearnley-Whittingstall has recently fronted a two-part BBC documentary series, Hugh’s War on Waste, in which he investigated food waste in a number of areas, including the home, supermarket supply chain and hospitality industry.

During the programme, he visited a chain of KFC, following reports that each branch of the fried chicken restaurant throws away three tonnes of chicken a year. This, he calculated, corresponded to 2,550 tonnes, around 2.5 million chickens, of wasted food across the 850 UK branches each year.

'Food wasted in every kitchen'

Smart meter reduces River Cottage waste
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Responding to the success of the pilot, Fearnley-Whittingstall said: "Food waste is an issue that affects all kitchens, and inevitably we're often too busy to understand what is being wasted and why. Winnow’s smart meter has helped us measure where food is wasted in our restaurant, and quickly points us to areas we can make changes.

"The River Cottage team was quick to buy into the project, and to feel the benefits: in less than three months, we've already reduced waste by a third by value. And we’re hoping to drive waste down even further. It’s clear that many others in our sector could benefit from using Winnow to reduce their waste and costs. It’s a real no-brainer for the hospitality industry."

Marc Zornes, Winnow CEO & Founder added: "The team at River Cottage got behind the initiative to reduce waste from day one and we're thrilled to see significant reductions in waste having used Winnow.

"Having worked in over 200 kitchens we've consistently seen waste cut in half, increasing profitability whilst doing the right thing for the environment at the same time. The results at River Cottage are testimony to the opportunity facing the whole hospitality sector."

More information on the Winnow system is available at the company’s website.

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