How can UK food and drink businesses become more sustainable? | Zedify
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calendarJanuary 29th, 2024
personBex Young
clock4 minute read

By Rob King, CEO and co-founder, Zedify- as published in CLH News

With over 220,000 hospitality businesses registered in the UK, the sector is the UK’s third largest employer and the food and drink manufacturing industry contributes £28bn accounting for 20% of the UK’s manufacturing sector. However, food and drink industries are also one of the biggest polluters and according to data from Big Hospitality, UK hospitality accounts for up to 15 percent of UK greenhouse gases.

And so quite rightly, these sectors are under renewed pressure to engage in more sustainable business practices. And this is not just because it is the right thing to do but because consumers are demanding it. Our research with Unidays showed that over 80 percent of Gen Zers are prepared to pay more for sustainable goods and services, while Rebound research shows that 87 percent of consumers want a sustainable delivery option.

So in the face of economic uncertainty and challenging times for the sector, it pays to be more sustainable – for our planet, for our people and for our profits. So, what can UK hospitality businesses do to become more sustainable this year?

Support low-volume recycling streams

As new innovations in the circular economy develop, it is a good idea to start separating more of your waste – for example, coffee grounds, which can be used to create biofuel, as well as beauty and food products.

Due to space restrictions and hygiene, these materials need to be collected quite frequently but the benefits of separating this waste are drastically reduced if they’re collected by a van or HGV. Look for providers who offer low-carbon collections and consolidate the small volumes collected from you with those collected from other businesses, at local microhubs before the materials are collected in bulk for larger vehicles.

Packaging returns

Work with suppliers and carriers to find the best low-carbon approach to dealing with reusable packaging returns.

In cities, developing efficient reverse logistics can have a huge impact on carbon, congestion and air quality. Consider partnering with companies like Again which has developed the technology for food and drinks brands to make it easier to swap single use packaging for reusables.


With more cities bringing in restrictions to prevent high polluting vehicles entering central zones, now is a good opportunity to review how regular bulk deliveries from suppliers are arriving at your venue.

Consider collaborating with other food and drink businesses to make use of micro-consolidation centres where suppliers can drop off in bulk and can fulfil smaller and more regular deliveries to your business. This is a smart way to influence the footprint of your supply chain and have a positive impact on local air quality.

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Address the last mile

Consider what happens once your products leave your kitchen or warehouse. How are they arriving at your customer’s doorstep? Many food and drink businesses are addressing food sourcing and sustainable waste management, investing in making their products and services more sustainable but this means they often forget this last step.

The last mile is a highly polluting part of the supply chain and with the huge rise in subscription based food businesses, direct to consumer goods from the likes of breweries and coffee roasteries, as well as a general rise in deliveries post pandemic, increased van journeys in our cities is having a big impact on air quality.

So consider more sustainable carbon saving delivery options, including cargo bikes, which slash carbon at the source, making any business model inherently more sustainable.

The future

By integrating these sustainable practices, hospitality businesses can not only reduce the environmental impact of their operations, but also appeal to increasingly environmentally conscious consumers who are prioritising businesses who not only have sustainability at their core, but who can prove the effectiveness of their environmental policies.

Find out more about Zedify and connect with Rob.

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