An interview with Torsten von Borstel, United Against Waste e.V.

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What does the association do to prevent food waste as a matter of principle? 

Firstly, we create an awareness for dealing respectfully with foods, including all the kitchen preparation processes. Our quick queries to find areas for improvement are: 

·     Where and why am I registering excess production, a return flow of plates with uneaten food, or losses due to “best before” and “use by” dates? 

·     When do I have a direct influence as kitchen manager? 

There are different setting “screws” in the core areas of planning, technology and communication that work together like cogwheels. Throughout the process, we also show the potential for preventing food waste; for instance, the right way to use calibration tables or merchandise management systems. Most of them are simple measures that have a great impact. 

How can “away-from-home catering” operations prevent waste on a long-term basis?


There is no “one size fits all” solution because the demands and requirements, structures and catering concepts vary greatly. Although general solutions do exist – e.g. by using formulas for recipes or dispensing meals suited to specific target groups - it’s the individual commitment and activities to tackle the cause that achieves success in the long run. That’s why we recommend to each facility that they start by measuring food waste over a period of 2-4 weeks using our Waste Analysis Tool. One thing is certain: Whoever reduces their food waste can save a lot of money.  Achieving a 30% reduction in food waste in a company restaurant serving 500 meals a day, amounts to an equivalent saving of ~25,000 Euros (1 litre of food waste = 2 euros)

What can head chefs and staff do against food waste? 


First off, it’s important that everyone involved in the process actively participates in the drive to reduce waste – from the kitchen manager to service personnel. Training too, is important to help achieve long-term behaviour change. During interactive workshop sessions employees draw up practical measures for their unit that contribute towards reducing food waste. Afterwards, we advise them to carry out another waste measurement exercise - this time to check if food waste was able to be reduced further and to what extent the measures are taking hold.

What is presently important – with respect to SDGs as well?


Germany has committed itself to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This involves a binding obligation to diminish food waste by 50% by 2030. The UAW has created the foundations to get there via nearly 400 measurement ratings. Due to the existing resources and underlying data along the entire value chain, “away-from-home catering” operationshave the biggest potential for reducing food waste. But measurements merely form the basis for knowing the amounts of scraps and leftovers that are being disposed of at the end of a given catering day. Now the point is to make instruments available to operations throughout Germany – so that measurements, waste analyses and coaching become the standard for low-waste catering.

More information at www.united-against-waste.de

United Against Waste e.V.(UAW) is an association to benefit the food industry. Together with its members like Compass Group Germany, the association develops practical solutions which demonstrate that food waste reduction is feasible and saves money, too. The measures drawn up by United Against Waste additionally help facilities operating in the field of “away-from-home catering” to make the subject of food waste more tangible during the daily routine in the kitchen. At the same time, active public relations work makes sure that everyone’s focus of attention shifts more and more towards dealing respectfully with food resources.