Partnership cuts the mustard

As part of a strategic initiative to reduce waste, streamline preparation processes and improve corporate sustainability, Mustard Foods partnered with ReFood to implement an integrated food waste recycling solution. Since entering the agreement, the food production business has lowered unavoidable food waste volumes, cut carbon emissions and slashed waste management costs.

Mustard Foods is a speciality food production business, developing and delivering bespoke products to more than 400 restaurants across the UK. From sauces and soups to dressings, fillings and marinades, the company prides itself on customisation, quality, consistency and integrity. To this end, the business has adopted a Good Business Journey initiative, which measures quality and sustainability performance.

Handling hundreds of ingredients and making countless products every day, however, means that food waste is a natural by-product – a key area analysed within the Good Business Journey. Waste generated by the business is typically drawn from technical samples and internal staff meals, with a smaller volume also coming from take-back systems and inconsistency.

To tackle the issue, Mustard Foods has partnered with ReFood to implement an integrated food waste recycling solution.

A bespoke approach

Taking food waste volumes, company processes, bin locations and collection frequency into consideration, the ReFood service is designed around specific business requirements. For Mustard Foods, the solution was therefore completely bespoke and closely aligned to existing waste management processes. For example, as with most food production businesses, the vast majority of waste was being generated in production areas. To increase efficiencies and allow staff to separate at source, ReFood specified its ‘bin swap’ service, whereby full-size, sanitised bins are supplied for use in kitchen areas. Once full, bins are collected and replaced with empty, sanitised replacements. By doing so, food waste recycling is made more straightforward for staff. What’s more, there is no risk of smelly, overflowing bins.

In addition, as Mustard Foods supplies packaged products, having to unpack unwanted food was considered a potential recycling barrier. Although Mustard Foods already has a 100 per cent non-landfill solution in place, the partnership with ReFood has enabled the business to take this a step further, collecting and recycling all excess produce, both packaged and non-packaged, plus library samples.

This flexibility, combined with a collection schedule arranged to suit fluctuations in waste generation, meant the whole process was simple and easy to implement.

Minimising cost, maximising value

Once bins are full, food waste is collected and transported to ReFood’s gas-to-grid (G2G) anaerobic digestion (AD) facility in Dagenham, UK. Capable of processing more than 160,000 tonnes of food waste every year, the site generates 14 million m3 of biogas (enough to power 12,600 homes) per annum.

Through the AD process, food waste naturally degrades in the absence of oxygen to produce methane and digestate residue. While the digestate can be pasteurised and repurposed as PAS110-accredited liquid biofertiliser, the resulting methane is upgraded to resemble the properties of natural gas and exported directly to the national gas grid.

The whole process is clean and, thanks to next generation air scrubbing technology, produces minimal odour. What’s more, embracing AD prevents food from ending up in landfill; instead using it to power homes and businesses across London – thus offsetting carbon emissions and protecting natural resources.

For Mustard Foods, this has seen waste used as a sustainable resource – a highly efficient alternative to more traditional disposal techniques and aligning with the principals set out by the Good Business Journey. In addition, diverting waste from landfill bypasses costly landfill tax payments. This has helped the food production company cut disposal costs considerably.

Making food waste recycling easy

ReFood now recycles all food waste generated at Mustard Foods, saving the company time, money and offsetting carbon emissions.

James Robins, managing director at Mustard Foods, comments, “We know that food waste is a challenge in the food manufacturing industry, so set ourselves strict reduction and recycling targets as part of the Good Business Journey. Working with ReFood has enabled us to adopt an end to end solution, which makes it easy for our employees to separate and dispose of food waste.

“Consumers are also starting to put more value on the sustainable and ethical practices of restaurants and their suppliers. The implementation of a food waste strategy means we can show our customers that we are taking the issue very seriously. Our partnership with ReFood is the icing on the cake for our existing initiatives to drive sustainability across the business. It helps to demonstrate our credentials as a responsible supplier, who is committed to reducing our environmental impact.”

Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood, adds, “We know that food waste recycling can conjure up images of smelly bins and extra hassle for kitchens, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Our bin-swap service is very popular with customers because we take away old bins and replace them with clean, sanitised ones. We also develop a collection schedule to suit each customer’s needs, meaning bins aren’t hanging around until collection day.

“Food manufacturing in the UK produces around 3.2 million tonnes of food waste per annum, 54 per cent of which still goes to landfill. Mustard Foods is a great example of a business pushing the food waste agenda and progressing all areas of its recycling strategy, reducing waste management costs and carbon dioxide emissions, as well as generating a sustainable supply of renewable energy.”

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