It is difficult to identify the main food waste producing sectors in Ireland, especially as each business can be so different.
A good starting point is the EPA National Waste Characterisation Report (2008) and the EPA 3rd Bin Commercial Waste Characterisation Report (2009). These reports provide information on the wastes generated by the main commercial sectors in Ireland. While statistics relating to waste are always open to a degree of uncertainty, these reports provide information about the quantities of waste, and food waste, produced by each type of business.
As a general overview the following shows the main sectors where food waste is being generated in Ireland.
It is clear from this that the key sectors are, as expected, tourism and hospitality (hotels, restaurants and bars) and food wholesale and retail. Irrespective of the sector that you are involved in, food waste is costing your business so make sure that you know how much you are throwing out.
In the 2008 EPA Waste Characterisation Report a series of waste benchmarks were estimated for each of the main commercial business sectors in Ireland. These allow businesses to roughly calculate how much food waste they may be generating each year.
When it comes to food, and food waste, the quantity generated is usually related to a certain level of business activity. For example, in schools it would be related to the number of students and in hotels related to the number of people staying, also referred to as bednights.
These will vary for different types of businesses and the benchmarks estimated during the EPA commercial characterisation study reflect this. A full list of Food Waste Generation Benchmarks is now available and the following example shows how they can be used.
If you have a restaurant with 9 full time equivalent staff then you could be generating:
9 x 0.8 = 7.2 tonnes of food waste annually
Taking the cost of food waste at €3,000 per tonne, the cost to this business can be estimated at €3,000 x 7.2 = €21,000 per year.
While not perfect, these food waste benchmarks provide a starting point for estimating how much food waste your business may be generating each year. Then, by putting a monetary value on this wasted food, businesses will be much more motivated to tackle the issue of their food waste.