Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood, explains how ReFood has helped eliminate food waste from The Rattle Owl restaurant using anaerobic digestion.
As part of a corporate commitment to setting standards in sustainability, The Rattle Owl partnered with ReFood to implement an integrated food waste collection and recycling service. As a result, the restaurant has improved its environmental credentials, streamlined its waste management costs and eliminated the landfilling of food waste.
Based in York city centre, The Rattle Owl is an independent casual-dining restaurant housed in a beautifully restored, 17th-century, Grade II listed building. With the kitchen team led by experienced head chef Tom Heywood, its variety of unique tasting menus celebrate the diversity and abundance of Yorkshire’s local produce.
Firmly established within the Good Food Guide, The Rattle Owl is committed to showcasing high-quality seasonal food and drinks. Local suppliers are used wherever possible, while many ingredients are even foraged by the chefs themselves.
Since the restaurant opened eight years ago, the team has worked exceptionally hard to minimise its environmental impact.
Since the restaurant opened eight years ago, the team has worked exceptionally hard to minimise its environmental impact. From how food is cooked and sourced, to how the building has been lovingly restored, sustainability is prioritised throughout.
At least 90% of ingredients are sourced from within a 30-mile radius, while the menu is continually adapted to make the most of high yields from suppliers. Wild garlic is picked from the historic city walls, while blackberries, elderflowers and rowan berries are foraged from nearby parkland. This “local first” approach means the restaurant boasts a very low carbon footprint.
Going further, a partnership with local charity St Nicks ensures all packaging materials are carefully recycled, while even the menus are printed on recycled paper. All in all, The Rattle Owl demonstrates how easy and beneficial it can be to make sustainability part of daily operations.
But while the venue has become renowned for its green credentials, the team was keen to find an environmental solution to deal with its resulting food waste. Be this shells, bones and gristle, spoiled produce or scrapings from patrons’ plates, it’s a waste stream that is difficult to avoid.
To tackle the issue head-on, The Rattle Owl team turned to ReFood, the UK’s leading food waste recycler, to implement an integrated food waste recycling solution.
Head chef Tom Heywood commented: “For every hospitality venue, food waste is a serious issue. Indeed, across the UK, the sector generates millions of tonnes every year – the vast majority of which is, unfortunately, sent to landfill.
“While we’ve designed our menu to maximise sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint, food waste is still a problem. As such, we wanted to find a solution whereby we kept our environmental impact to a minimum, while still offering the extremely high standards our patrons have come to expect.
While we’ve designed our menu to maximise sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint, food waste is still a problem.
“Having researched a number of different options, we came across ReFood – the UK’s leading food waste recycler – a business experienced in helping venues similar to ours cut their carbon footprint by collecting and disposing of unwanted food waste. Following a number of meetings with the team, we rolled out the ReFood service and haven’t looked back since!”
ReFood’s solution: anaerobic digestion
The ReFood solution sees unavoidable food waste regularly collected from The Rattle Owl and taken to ReFood’s anaerobic digestion (AD) facility in Doncaster. Here, food waste is broken down in the absence of oxygen, with the resulting methane released captured and used to generate renewable energy.
Even the resulting digestate can be repurposed as a sustainable biofertiliser to help local farmers aid crop growth. Nothing is wasted.
Tom continued: “This circular approach, which effectively closes the food supply loop, is exactly what we were looking for. Rather than seeing food waste left to rot in landfill, ReFood’s recycling service provides a simple and effective, environmentally-friendly alternative. We can be safe in the knowledge that our unavoidable food waste is being used for good.
ReFood really understands how to integrate food waste recycling into restaurant operations.
“Alongside the sustainability benefits of its service, ReFood really understands how to integrate food waste recycling into restaurant operations. This makes it really straightforward to adopt, implement and for our kitchen team to buy into.
“For example, full bins are collected and swapped with sanitised replacements that can be used directly in kitchen areas. This means our chefs can separate waste at source and recycle waste without having to disrupt their routine.
“As a result of recycling our food waste, we’ve not only found an environmentally-friendly solution for an unavoidable waste stream, but we’ve also managed to eliminate the need for our chefs to send food waste to landfill.
“To put it simply, working with ReFood is a true partnership. Not only does food recycling reduce our carbon footprint, but it also comes at a significantly reduced cost over conventional waste management.”
This circular approach, which effectively closes the food supply loop, is exactly what we were looking for.
Rattle Owl is an excellent example of a restaurant really committing to sustainability. ReFood are proud to help the business reduce its carbon footprint even further, by turning waste into renewable power and sustainable fertiliser – a completely closed-loop solution.
For busy hospitality venues, simplicity and cost are key. Our recycling solution is incredibly straightforward and easy to adopt, while also being cheaper than conventional waste management solutions.
To find out more, or our food waste recycling services, visit ReFood today.