Caring for people, caring for the planet – Aria Care’s sustainable approach

by James Clear, Hospitality Director, Aria Care

In the UK alone, we let 9.5 million tonnes of food and drink go to waste annually, and 70% of this is entirely preventable. This report from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) highlights a situation that demands more than business awareness – it calls for a united effort from all of us to make a change. It’s about understanding the significant impact our small, daily decisions can have on our environment.

I’ve seen the tides change throughout my years in the hospitality industry. Shifts in how we eat, technological advancements, and a rising tide of sustainability awareness have reshaped our battle against waste. These changes aren’t just industry trends – they reflect our growing understanding that what we do today echoes into the future.

The impact of our choices stretches far and wide, touching on global sustainability efforts and the legacy we leave for future generations. This understanding has motivated us to adapt and innovate in our approach to waste management.

A sustainable step forward

Starting with actions like implementing food waste bins across our facilities was our first stand against waste. But we’ve gone further, converting this waste into energy as part of our commitment to being environmentally friendly. Therefore, our excess food is turned into a resource when it is delivered to facilities which convert the methane gas into energy. This initiative aligns with The Waste Prevention Programme for England: Maximising Resources, Minimising Waste, showing our dedication to making a tangible difference.

Menus crafted with sustainability in mind

Our menus are thoughtfully designed, considering the feedback from our communities. So, we regularly deliver meals that delight our residents’ senses while minimising waste. By adapting our food offerings based on what’s popular and what’s not, we can significantly reduce the amount of uneaten food. This approach ensures that our meals are enjoyed, and we’re doing our part to reduce food and drink waste. As highlighted by WRAP, menu planning can help prevent waste by managing the supply chain, minimising packaging, using all your stock, minimising preparation waste, optimising portion sizes, and redistributing and reusing food items that have not been sold. Our three-week menu cycle is specifically designed to help chefs utilise their budget effectively and reduce waste, further supporting our sustainable initiatives.

Empowering our culinary team

Our chefs are at the forefront of our sustainability mission, especially during our Chef Development Days. These sessions explore sustainable cooking practices, focusing on the themes ‘Wise up on Waste’ and ‘Food is Medicine’. It’s an innovative way to blend the art of cooking with the importance of sustainability, changing how we think about food and its impact on our world. From 30th April – 1st May, we are running a ‘Tea Trolley Treats’ course where 12 chefs each day will create tasty treats and learn how to use residual stocks, demonstrating our commitment to wise up on waste.

Enhancing local engagement

In addition to our efforts in the kitchen, some of our homes boast herb gardens, maintained by residents, which not only foster a sense of community but also contribute to our local sourcing efforts. Our commitment to local supply chains helps reduce transportation emissions and supports the local economy, aligning with our sustainability goals. Also, in some homes, we engage in natural composting and host gardening clubs, allowing residents to actively participate in our sustainability initiatives. We also rigorously monitor energy usage through reports provided by our supplier, continually seeking ways to improve efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint.

Stopping food waste is achievable

Let’s embrace Stop Food Waste Day as a collective commitment towards a more sustainable future. It’s an invitation to rethink our daily choices and recognise the powerful impact we can have. Here are some actionable steps everyone can take to join this cause:

  • Plan your meals – think ahead to ensure you buy only what you need, reducing the likelihood of food going unused.

  • Understand date labels – learn the difference between “use by” and “best before” dates to avoid discarding food that is still safe to eat.

  • Embrace leftovers – get creative, turning them into new meals instead of letting them go to waste.

  • Start composting – this way, you can turn food scraps into valuable plant nutrients.

  • Be a conscious consumer – support businesses and restaurants committed to reducing food waste.

By taking these steps, we reduce waste and contribute to a healthier planet.