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Tackling Food Waste Through Tech

Taking stock of our food waste through DigiTally

In 2020, Compass Ireland joined forces with Digitally, one of the market’s most-sophisticated yet intuitive software solutions to help digitise our stock-taking process.


The initiative promised to save approximately 25,000 labour hours and 87,000 sheets of paper per annum, whilst simplifying one of the industry’s most laborious, yet essential administrative tasks.


Teams across the country welcomed brand-new time-saving electronic tablets serving to optimise what was previously a predominantly analogue process.


Owing to the success of the initiative, we reached out to DigiTally once more, this time to tackle a much, much larger issue: food waste.


Food Waste: The Bigger Picture...

It’s estimated that around 1/3 of all food produced worldwide goes to waste, and the majority of that waste ends up in landfill. This waste accounts for around 8-10% of ALL greenhouse gas emissions.


Closer to home, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and based on current estimates, Ireland generates approximately 1.1 million tonnes of food waste per year.


That’s a BIG problem.




Getting To The Root Cause

The food waste hierarchy details ‘prevention’ as the most critical aspect of food waste control, and as Ireland’s largest food service provider, that’s something well within our power to influence.


The business began by identifying five categories by which we could identify the nature of waste being generated:


1) Out of date: Items that have expired their use-by-date, including retail packaged items.


2) Plate waste: Waste returned to the dishwashing area on a customer’s plate.


3) Pre-Production: Waste generated from preparing a dish i.e. egg shells, peelings, skins and bones.


4) Post-Production: Any food disposed of after service i.e. unsold items unsuitable for re-purposing.


5) Retail Waste: Retail products thrown away for any reason i.e. damaged packaging.


Next, we tasked DigiTally to develop a simple and intuitive system that could make recording food waste a breeze, incorporating the five critical areas of site-generated food waste.


Introducing the new ‘Food Waste Module.’

DigiTally set about updating its software, creating a new ‘Food Waste Module’ capable of capturing digital feedback from weighing scales installed within our kitchen and waste management areas.


From February 2023, all sites across the country will be trained on the new system and instructed to log their daily food waste figures.


Utilising DigiTally’s new data processing powers, we will interrogate the data and implement appropriate control measures to target the areas generating the highest volumes of waste.


As an added bonus, the new software is capable of converting waste metrics into ‘No. of meals wasted,’ making it simple to communicate the true impact of our waste-saving measures with customers, clients and colleagues.


Why Does Weighing Food Waste Matter?

Weighing food waste and monitoring the data provides invaluable insights into waste generation patterns, allowing our teams to formulate and implement impactful waste reduction controls.


The process might seem simple at first, but the potential benefits to both the planet and our business are too promising to overlook...


Improved Awareness: Weighing food waste helps to raise awareness of the extent of the problem and highlights the need for waste reduction efforts. This can be used to educate our clients, customers and colleagues.


Data-Driven Decision Making: By tracking waste generation over time, it is possible to identify trends and patterns used to inform waste reduction strategies.


Increased Accountability: Weighing food waste creates a sense of accountability within our sites, as employees and customers become more aware of the impact of their waste-generating activities.


Better Resource Management: By tracking food waste data, we can gain a better understanding of how to optimise our food ordering and food preparation practices.


Cost Savings: Reducing food waste can lead to significant cost savings, great news for our clients and customers.


Korean spiced beef



So, What’s Next?

What we do with all of this insightful data will ultimately determine the success of our initiative and we’re passionately motivated to make this work.


In 2021, we published our ambitious Net Zero Roadmap, containing a bold commitment to reduce our food waste by 50% by 2030. In doing so, we’ll be taking great strides towards achieving our wider sustainability goal, Climate Net Zero by 2030.


Over the coming months, we’ll be holding ourselves accountable and reporting on the progress of the Food Waste Module software. Stay tuned for more updates.