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New Hubbub campaign to target restaurant food waste

To mark Stop Food Waste Day (27 April), behaviour change specialist Hubbub has today launched a new partnership to reduce the amount of food thrown away in corporate and university restaurants.

The charity has linked up with Compass Group UK & Ireland and commercial kitchen food waste app Winnow to target ‘plate waste’ – the food thrown away or left at the end of a meal by customers – with Winnow data showing that customer waste can account for up to five per cent of food purchased by restaurants.

Food waste from restaurants is significant, with some 600,000 tonnes of food from restaurants going to waste every year in the UK. A study from online marketplace company Groupon suggests that 35 per cent of Brits admit to not finishing their food when they eat out, with the average British diner wasting £80.21 every year on unfinished food.

New Hubbub campaign to target restaurant food waste

The partnership will operate in four different sites – the University of Sussex, a distribution centre and two high-profile businesses in Canary Wharf – and explore different behaviour change approaches to see whether they reduce food waste and if changes in habits remain over time.

Each campaign has been built using insights gained from customers, measuring existing levels of ‘plate waste’ and learning about the cultural drivers within the organisations taking part. Messaging will be positive as preliminary findings show that people across all groups do not respond favourably to negative messaging that feels ‘preachy’ when they are trying to enjoy a relaxing meal. Instead of this, Hubbub will focus on a variety of positive behaviour change interventions.

  • Nudge messaging will be used to encourage people to make slightly different choices, focusing on the most commonly wasted food items.
  • Rewards systems will be tested at two different sites, with one consisting of an open voting system where staff select a favourite charity, with the donation dependent on how successful the company has been in reducing food waste, while at another site there will be a highly visual ‘pile of presents’ prize, which will only be opened if the food waste target is hit.
  • Social norms around food waste will be targeted at the University of Sussex, where volunteer student ‘Waste Warriors’ have been recruited to implement a food waste reduction initiative decided on by students, while at the distribution centre, customers will be encouraged to become ‘food waste ambassadors’ and trial different food waste reduction techniques in their homes.
  • Ongoing feedback will be provided by data collected by Winnow, with the app’s unique data collection system enabling an accurate measurement of the impact of the campaign.

Commenting on the campaign, Trewin Restorick, Hubbub CEO, said: “Encouraging customers to reduce food waste from restaurants in businesses and universities is a significant behaviour change challenge. Hubbub is delighted to have launched a new partnership with Compass Group and Winnow Solutions to test a range of different ‘nudge’ techniques. It will intriguing to see which, if any work, helping to inform other organisations seeking to cut food waste from this source.”

Hubbub has experience engaging in partnerships to combat food waste, teaming up with Sainsbury’s last year to launch the Community Fridge Network, which is a network of fridges located in community centres stocking unwanted food which is free to take for community members. The fridges are run on an honesty basis and require people to note what they have taken in a log book so records can show how many people have been helped. Feedback from the project pilot in Swadlincote in 2016 showing people acted considerately and sensibly when using the fridges. The Network hopes to expand to 70 Community Fridges across the UK in the next three years thanks to an injection of £160,000 of funding from the National Lottery.


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