Back in 2016, WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) reported that food waste cost the UK around £3 billion per year.
To combat the eye-watering stats, many restaurants across the capital have pledged to help raise awareness of the waste in the food industry and have taken active measures to tackle the issue.
From zero-choice set menus to compost schemes, there are many ways restaurateurs in London are working to reduce food waste.
These are the places pioneering the trend in the restaurant industry, with innovative and resourceful methods.
This drinking den in Bermondsey employs a no-waste ethos. Everything in the cosy bar is selected with care. The recipes here are constantly reinvented and ingredients are repurposed to reduce waste. Anything that’s left over is used as compost to help herbs grow in the back garden. A lemon, for example, will have its skin, oil and juice taken for cocktails but then the pith – which is usually thrown away – is re-distilled to produce essential oils for liqueurs and hand soaps. Disposable items are removed from the workings of the bar to create this eco-friendly system. Even the staff uniforms are from some of London’s best vintage shops. They’re committed to the cause here, offering a sustainable alternative to the capital’s cocktail culture.
8 Holyrood St, SE1 2EL, ninelivesbar.com
This restaurant is the brainchild of award-winning bartending Mr Lyan (Dandelyan, Super Lyan) and multi-award-winning chef Douglas McMaster from Brighton’s zero-waste restaurant, Silo. So it's safe to say they know their stuff. They're on a mission to change the view that food is cheap and replaceable and highlight our disposable attitudes towards food. The pair champion waste reduction and the use of by-products and they do this through a no-choice set-menu, that changes on a regular basis. Read our review of Cub here.
Bean & Wheat
Chef Adam Handling is no stranger to zero-waste operations, both of his two Frog restaurants are a testament to this cause. This is the newest addition to the Handling empire; a coffee shop and deli that uses off-cuts and by-products from its sister kitchens. The misshapen fruit and veg from the other sites are transported and made into refreshing cold-pressed juices.
321 Old St, EC1V 9LE, beanandwheat.co.uk
This veggie restaurant offers a selection of plant-based dishes from around the globe. Founder Camilla Fayed pays close attention to minimising the amount of fruit and vegetable wastage. Ingredients are blended to obtain juices and peels are squeezed to extract every possible part. It adopts practical ways of making food last longer, such as freezing fruit to use for smoothies and garnishes in drinks. The excess parts that cannot be used are divided up and put in their compost bin.
74 Westbourne Grove, W2 5SH, farmacylondon.com
Riverford at Duke of Cambridge
Back in 2014, the Duke of Cambridge pub joined forces with Riverford, a Devon farm veggie box company. Four years on, this Islington spot is a certified organic pub that serves up all kinds of seasonal treats. All the food waste is collected to generate energy through an anaerobic digester. It's pretty swanky stuff and very forward-thinking: their recycling even stretches to the furniture, which is second-hand or upcycled.
30 St Peter's St, N1 8JT, dukeorganic.co.uk
OK, a slight cheat. It may not be open yet but this sustainable restaurant is set to burst onto the London food scene in a big way — so it's definitely worth a mention. Levan has pledged to operate a system where more than 90 per cent of waste will be repurposed and reused. The folks behind Brixton's Salon are behind it, so it's bound to be top-notch. Every little detail will matter here — leftover herb stalks will be made into ferments and infusions whereas old milk will be used to make fresh curd cheese. Even the cocktail menu has been curated by using ingredients from the kitchen garden. It will feature drinks such as a homemade blackcurrant leaf vermouth and rosemary pisco sours. Watch this space.