How restaurants can cut waste during the winter holidays

Despite the cold weather, the holiday season can be the busiest time of year for restaurants. Companies are hosting end of year parties, people are celebrating Christmas and New Year and festive moods prevail! This increase in patronage leads to an increase in the amount of waste generated, along with higher water and energy consumption. 

Together with environmental considerations and obligations, restaurants are tasked with taking measures to save money by reducing waste and utility bills. In this article, we’ll provide some top tips for festive season waste management for restaurants. 

restaurants wasteWaste 

In the restaurant industry, food waste is a central consideration and the most obvious type of waste generated. 

According to WRAP:

  • The hospitality sector generates more than 2 million tonnes of waste each year.
  • 61% of packaging is glass (produced mainly by pubs, hotels, and restaurants). 
  • The hospitality industry generates around 4 million tonnes (£2.5 billion) of food waste.
  • Businesses in the hospitality sector can save up to 40% by recycling food waste.

Here are some tips for reducing food waste:


  • Avoid offering buffets spreads where possible. Serving plated meals or even family-style can prevent the excessive food waste associated with buffet meals.
  • Source local ingredients (which tend to be fresher and have a smaller carbon footprint).
  • Better yet, grow your own vegetables and herbs.
  • You can then use some of your food waste as compost for your veggie garden.
  • Cater for different dietary requirements, like vegans and vegetarians. 
  • Try to use similar ingredients across your dishes to prevent wastage when one meal sells better than another.
  • Change your menu regularly, retaining those dishes that sell well, and rethinking the slow movers. 

Get your customers involved in your food waste management plans

  • Tell your diners why you’re not offering a buffet and let them know about your environmentally-friendly initiatives. 
  • A combination of a ‘freshly-made to order’ approach, together with an environmentally-mindful outlook is sure to be popular amongst your guests. 

Manage your meals 

  • Reduce over-portioning.
  • Ensure effective food ordering, storage and management. According to ReFood, about 60% of the hospitality sector’s food waste could be eaten through better planning, portioning, management, storage, and preparation.


  • Ensure that recycling bins are clearly labelled and situated in convenient locations for both your staff and customers.
  • Avoid single-use items such as plastic straws, individually-packaged jams and condiments, polystyrene takeaway cups and boxes and water bottles.


Colder temperatures and busier restaurants during the winter holidays mean there is additional energy used during the festive season. Busy restaurants consume a vast amount of energy, with 40% of it going into the preparation and storage of food. When you consider the essential lighting and heating, and the gas and electricity that are essential for cooking, the costs soon add up. 

Implement an energy management strategy 

Energy management relies on effective energy monitoring. Metering and invoicing are one element of this, but you can also implement smart software and technology to strategise for savings. 

Top tips for saving energy 

  • Induction hobs often use less energy than their gas or electric counterparts.
  • Look for efficient, professional equipment, no matter how small your restaurant. Avoid using appliances intended for domestic purposes. 
  • Places fridges, freezers and other coolers away from heating sources.
  • Keep fridge doors closed whenever possible and ensure that your cold room and fridge seals are intact. 
  • Defrost and clean your cooling equipment regularly.
  • Service all systems and equipment regularly.
  • Insulate hot water pipes to make sure you’re not losing any heat. 
  • Use LED lightbulbs, which could reduce the electricity you use for lighting by up to 80%.
  • Stick to start-up and shut-down schedules for appliances (such as turning off drinks fridges overnight).
  • Zoned heating will keep customers and staff comfortable while saving the business money.

Switch energy suppliers and save 

As high energy users, many restaurants stand to save by moving on to more suitable energy contracts. Lower energy bills mean lower expenses over the holidays.  


Wasted water is literally water down the drain. Here are some water-saving ideas for restaurants: 

  • Use high-performance low-flow nozzles for dishwashing or upgrade your dishwashers entirely.
  • Fix any leaks- you’ll be surprised how much water one leak can waste! 
  • Installing low-flow aerators at hand-washing stations (kitchen sinks, kitchen bathrooms and public restrooms).
  • Greywater harvesting is a long-term option worth considering.

Switch water suppliers 

In a deregulated water market, your restaurant stands to save on water costs by switching to a cheaper contract. It’s worth comparing quotes from different suppliers and finding the best deal for your needs and consumption habits. 

Use the services of a utilities consultant 

With waste, water and energy usage increased during the holidays, it can make a big difference to your bottom line to: 

  • Strategise around the energy of your hospitality business through industry-leading procurement, monitoring, and management services.
  • Understand your usage, shop the market for the most suitable contract for your circumstances, and get the best tariffs.

The benefits of having a waste, energy and water management strategy are both financial and environmental for restaurants – but already-stretched restaurant owners and managers generally lack the time and expertise to deliver one. That’s why many restaurants choose to use the services of a utilities consultant to come up with an overall utilities management strategy and implement measures that reduce waste, energy consumption, water consumption and bills. As one of the UK’s largest business-to-business utilities brokers, contact Smarter Business to get more expert advice on how you can save thousands on your utility bills and become a more sustainable business with our smart energy solutions.