Organics recycling company Warrens Group has warned the UK could miss its sustainable development goal to halve food waste by 2030 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
UN Sustainable Development Goals aim to cut global food waste by half by 2030 and address its significant carbon and methane footprint.
Warren Quigley, Warrens Group’s commercial director, said: “A lot of food companies have pledged to tackle food waste, but Covid-19 has thrown many off-track and forced them to look at different ways of operating.
“We realise that there have been fluctuations in customer-ordering patterns for restaurants, but the spike in waste during lockdown means that a lot has been ending up in the bin.”
Mr Quigley suggested restaurants so far unable to open may dump large amounts of food as they prepare to reopen from July.
He added: “Overall, if we don’t act now this will contribute to a bigger carbon footprint and restaurants and takeaways need to keep this front of mind as we head out of lockdown.”
Research published in May by online food ordering company Just Eat and the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) suggests takeaway restaurants have generated 25% more food waste than normal during the coronavirus lockdown.
And, the report suggests the average cost of food waste produced weekly in UK takeaway restaurants has risen from £111 pre-lockdown to £148.
However, the research also found UK households have saved an average of £3.2 million a week by making the most of the takeaways they order following the introduction of lockdown measures.
Mr Quigley said: “It does seem as though the empty supermarket shelves and stockpiling has heightened people’s awareness of food waste in the home, which is good news.
“If we can manage food waste now, it may act as a catalyst for the food waste industry to engage and educate the public about the environmental and economic benefits.”
Based in County Durham, Warrens Group is a subsidiary of BioCapital LTD.
The company says it works with farmers, the public sector and private companies to recycle food waste to generate electricity, heat and biofertiliser at its anaerobic digestion facility in Newton Aycliffe.