Reducing Food & Drink Impact

Sustainable Tourism

Reducing Food & Drink Impact

This toolkit is part of the Low Carbon Lake District 2 Project which is funded by the UK European Structural and Investment Fund Programme.

The food your serve, where it comes from and how it reaches you all contribute to one of the biggest portions of your businesses’ carbon footprint. As you pay twice for wasted food – once to purchase it and once to dispose of it – minimising wasted food is also vital.

The good news is that you can often make the biggest difference in this area of your business. Due to the good carbon reduction ratio, there are a number of useful grant schemes available to help you make a bigger positive impact.

Top Tips on Food & Drink Impact

Wasted food

It’s estimated that the Hospitality and Food Service industry throw £3.2billion of wasted food into the bin every year. That’s an average of £10,000 for every outlet in the UK!

  • Analyse the key food items that you tend to waste. This handy food waste calculator will help you work out how much money and carbon equivalent you can save by reducing wasted food.
  • Look carefully at portion size, as it’s estimated 34% of waste is directly from customers’ plates.
  • Have clear waste separation in the kitchen to ensure items are disposed of in the correct containers. Install compost bins for fruit and veg peelings, coffee grounds, tea leaves, cardboard, etc. Opt for aerobic digesters/composters where possible as these are thought to produce less Greenhouse gasses.
  • Focus on the food delivery, storage and use of items with a short shelf life, as these are most vulnerable to being wasted. Like tableware, fixtures and fittings, and even art for the restaurant walls. Stay local and add a unique story to your offering!

Guardians of Grub have designed a range of tools with time-pressed professionals in mind to help reduce wasted food. And best of all, it’s all completely free. 

 Start with the Guardians of Grub Cost Savings Skills Course, which will teach you and your team the essentials on reducing wasted food in just fifteen minutes.

 Once you’ve completed that, you’re ready to take your food waste reduction to the next level. The Becoming a Champion e-learning course is a brilliant deep-dive into all the ways you can make sure the food in your kitchens’ feeds people, not bins.

 And with either course, you’ll even get an official badge of honour that can be displayed wherever you like – from newsletters to social media – a handy way to tell customers and employees alike that you share their values.

 To join the growing community of industry professionals who have become certified Champions, check out the webinar and course here. If you are in the Westmorland and Furness area you might qualify for additional help and support through the course, supported by the Green Enterprise Hub, Funded by UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Westmorland and Furness Council. To find out what is involved contact

    Purchasing and supply chains

    • Review your supply chains to better understand how the products that your business uses and sells are grown, created and transported. The FSB has advice on sustainable purchasing and ethically sourced products in your supply chain.
    • Only use trusted suppliers and ensure that you not only take an interest in the origins of products, but then translate this back to customers.
    • Buy in bulk to reduce the amount of plastic packaging (and the C02 emissions produced to deliver the products to you). Where you can, use local products which come without plastic wrapping and support the local economy.
    • Shop locally for other goods like tableware, fixtures and fittings, and even art for the restaurant walls. Stay local and add a unique story to your offering!
    • Be aware that not all local products will be lower in carbon. For example, a product produced in a heated greenhouse here might have a higher carbon footprint than one grown naturally from Europe.

      Local, seasonal & inclusive menus

      • Be specific about local producers and WHY you use them. Go beyond the generic “local products are used whenever possible” and highlight both food produced near you and in season, plus any other ethical/welfare standards such as Fairtrade, organic or Freedom Food (animal welfare).
      • Include local speciality recipes on your menu and make sure all staff are fully briefed on the food they are serving.
      • Develop more inclusive menus to cater for different backgrounds and tastes. For instance, vegan, kosha and hal’al options. Have you got something for everyone? 56% of international visitors believe that Britain is a good place to try local specialities, but have you considered the full range of cultural expectations, motivations and travel styles?
      • Consider developing a carbon-costed menu, showing the impact of food choices by highlighting the carbon footprint of each dish and giving customers clearer choices. Beware of making assumptions about plant-based menus being better for the environment and thoroughly research the carbon impact of how produce has been sourced, stored and transported before it reaches you. A good carbon calculator for recipes can be found here.
      • Make customers aware of local farmers markets, food festivals and specialist foodie shops. Cumbria has everything from an exceptional range of locally produced meats to famous beers/ales, seasonal jams/preserves to age-old recipes sold around the world.
        See for inspiration.

          Food preparation

          • Choose energy efficient kitchen equipment and research running costs, as well as purchase costs. Check out the Energy Saving Trust’s guide to energy performance for appliances (rated A to G).
          • Keep equipment clean and avoid leaving appliances on standby when you can.
          • Use dishwashers only when full and at night, if you’re on a day/night electricity tariff.
          • Check seals on fridge/freezer and oven doors to ensure they’re performing efficiently.

            Ask The Experts

            Food Made Good is the world’s largest food service sustainability programme, coordinated by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. The Food Made Good 50 Self-Assessment Tool can help businesses to: rebuild menus, identify suppliers, develop a ‘to do list’ and promote successes to customers, colleagues and partners.


            Guardians of Grub supports hospitality and food service businesses to reduce the amount of food thrown away. It has a variety of online resources to help you get started, ranging from a tracker to monitor progress, to menu planning slides, food posters and bin labels to help staff easily separate food. They also have free courses to help develop your team’s skills and knowledge.


            Electricity North West have a great set of resources to help businesses make the workplace more efficient, including advice on appliances and equipment, lighting and heating, ventilation and cooling.

            Inspiration from Businesses

            Sticklebarn is a National Trust run pub in Langdale and one of the first in the UK to list carbon calculations against its dishes – similar to displaying calories per serving. Seasonal food with Cumbrian heritage is at its heart of a diverse menu for all tastes, including great vegan choices. As a result, the property has been awarded a 2-star rating by the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

            “We are passionate about offering people somewhere to come that provides a delicious meal in great surroundings with minimal impact on the environment. Sticklebarn has made several changes over the years to be more environmentally aware and provide planet friendly food for our visitors.

            The meat on the menu is sourced from local farmers and a local butcher, our take-away packaging is made from plants, and we also include the CO2 emissions per meal on our menu.”

            Beverley Holland, Sticklebarn Operations Manager

            This toolkit is part of the Low Carbon Lake District 2 Project which is funded by the UK European Structural and Investment Fund Programme.