Festive Food Waste: Why and How to Avoid it

Most of us have a tendency to overspend during the festive period, which is why every year we anticipate an increased level of food waste over Christmas. There are over four million Christmas dinners thrown away each year, with each household spending an extra £100 on food alone.

Based on this figure, that is a whopping £444 million of potential Christmas food wasted in the UK. Although households are responsible for 70% of all food waste generated across the country, the food and hospitality sectors also play a major part, especially over the holidays.

Festive Facts

2022 Festive Stats from Too Good To Go

Christmas is all about spending time with family and friends, and of course, indulging in good food and festive drinks. The demand for outsourced meals goes through the roof in December with work Christmas parties, team meals, Christmas markets and festive get-togethers, making this time of year very profitable for food and hospitality businesses.

‘Tis the season to overindulge after all, but how can we spread Christmas cheer and limit the waste we create as a business?

It’s always important to reduce food waste and recycle unavoidable waste because of the following benefits:


disposal charges

Better for the environment

Better for your green credentials

At BioteCH4, we are firm believers in reducing and reusing, but we are also aware that it isn’t always possible, which is why we help businesses to recycle food waste safely and sustainably.

How can my business reduce its Christmas food waste?

1. Follow the Target-Measure-Act strategy

Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has detailed a food waste reduction strategy for the food service industry. The main philosophy behind this 6-week strategy is to create a target of how much food waste you want to reduce, measure how much you are wasting at each stage of food production, and act to cut it down accordingly.

Your target can be a figure you think works best for your business, though 20% is what WRAP suggests. You can set a target more or even less than that—it depends on your business and you.

2. Rethink your offerings

If you pay attention to your clientele’s preferences, you can assess your product range and remove items that are rarely ordered.

3. Buy efficiently

  • Certain items go off quicker than others, whilst some can be kept in storage for months. 
  • When you’re planning your purchases, try and fit in frozen, canned, or dried versions of ingredients wherever possible. These will last much longer and you won’t need to worry about them being used in time.
  • If you’re serving certain cuts of meat in your meals, buy them pre-cut. That will not only save your staff time in preparing them but will also reduce waste.

4. Make sure your storage equipment is working properly

When you have stocked your refrigerators and freezers with holiday food, the last thing you need is your fridge breaking down or not cooling efficiently. So make sure your storage equipment has been serviced and working optimally before you get hit with the Christmas rush.

5. Rethink food labels

Consumers tend to follow food date labels very literally, which can often lead to them throwing out ingredients and produce that is perfectly fine.

WRAP is encouraging Commercial food manufacturers to rethink the way they label their products.

Businesses are encouraged to only print a ‘use-by’ date if there is a food safety reason or to provide storage instructions to keep food fresh for longer.

6. Plan portion sizes

It might be time to rethink your portion sizes if your customers are leaving behind a lot of food on their plates; alternatively, consider offering more than one portion size on your menu.

“Between the end of November to mid-January, we’re anticipating seeing an increase of around 7.5% in Christmas-related food waste. Last year in that same period we processed 90,814 tonnes of Christmas food waste, delivered to our sites.” 

Lee Dobinson, Chief Commercial Officer, BioteCH4

7. Allow customers to take leftovers home

Food left on a customer’s plate is no longer viable for anything else other than the bin. In that case, why not offer to pack it up for them so they can enjoy it later?

8. Distribution and donations

As part of the food service and distribution industry, you need to have surplus food available or prepped to meet customer demand during the holiday season. However, anything that is not consumed (or bought) might have to be thrown out for health and safety reasons.

Have you considered donating it? Fareshare can help you with this. Your business will reduce the amount of food thrown out and you will help less fortunate people and families enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner.

9. Reuse leftover food

If certain leftover food items are not suitable for donation, think about how you can reuse them. Maybe the fish you have prepped, and cooked, could be used to make a fish pie. Or, the turkey carcass could be used to make stock.

Can leftover salad ingredients be fermented or made into soups?

Think creatively, and nearly all your food waste could become the foundation of the next day’s offerings.

10. Allow staff to take leftovers

If your leftover food cannot be donated, reused, or repurposed, it might be an idea to offer it to your staff. That way, they can enjoy some of the food that would have been binned.

11. Remember to dispose of waste cooking oil and fats legally

As Christmas approaches, it’s useful to remember that as businesses, you are responsible for the safe disposal of your food waste and waste cooking oils and fats. These need to be stored and disposed of safely and responsibly.They cannot be poured down the drain.

Why do we need to reduce food waste?

Food waste is harmful to our environment because as it decomposes, it can produce significant levels of Methane (CH4), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and water vapour, which are all greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Normally, foods like uncooked vegetables and eggshells would undergo the process of composting and become food for the soil. However, in landfills, they don’t have the right conditions. They simply rot, producing liquids that combine with toxic metals creating leachate that poisons the soil around the landfill. Greenhouse gases and toxicity are just two of the negative effects of landfills.

However, if food waste was kept out of landfills, that would reduce the burden on the environment, and Anaerobic Digestion is the perfect sustainable alternative for the disposal of food waste.

What BioteCH4 can do to help

Once food waste is collected it is transported to one of our strategically located sites across the UK and will be used as part of the Anaerobic Digestion process to generate gas and electricity to power local businesses or be sold back to the national grid.

The food waste is used for good, helping you reduce your CO2 emissions and improving your green credentials and sustainability.

As well as assisting with reducing your environmental impact on the local and wider community, your actions of creating green energy from food waste will also enable you to reduce the environmental impact of your business and reduce CO2 levels created by food waste that goes straight to landfills.

According to Too Good To Go, an average of 19% more food waste is produced over Christmas than at any other time of the year. With poultry, vegetables and potatoes already being some of our top wasted foods in the UK (WRAP), it’s no surprise this becomes an even larger problem during the festive season.

For each tonne of waste processed through the anaerobic digestion process rather than being sent to a landfill, 500kg of CO2 emissions are avoided. This is the equivalent of a ¼ of a million tonnes of CO2, stopped from entering the atmosphere in the last 12 months – quite an achievement!

Festive Food Waste Management

It’s easy to forget about the waste created during the Christmas season as we are distracted by our business booming with the bustling Christmas crowd, but by following the steps above you’ll be on your way to reducing your festive food waste. If you would like to know more about reducing your food waste, get in touch with a member of the BioteCH4 team.

Get in touch

If you are interested in our services and would like to get touch, please contact us at:

BioteCH4, The Control Tower, Hemswell Cliff Industrial Estate,
Hemswell Cliff, Gainsborough, United Kingdom, DN21 5TU

Tel: 01427 667744

Email: enquiries@ch4mail.com

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