The food waste partnership that is helping Sheffield sourdough bakery and café group to light up UK homes

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Marmadukes is on a mission to slash food waste. Pic: Brad Matthews
Marmadukes is on a mission to slash food waste. Pic: Brad Matthews

Related tags Marmadukes ReFood Food waste Renewable energy National Gas Grid biogas Anaerobic digestion

Pledging to minimise its footprint, Marmadukes’ partnership with ReFood – the UK’s leading food waste recycler – is paying dividends for the planet, the business and society in general.

ReFood’s environmentally-friendly solution has not only eliminated food waste ending in landfill, but has helped slash Marmaduke’s waste management costs and also means it is having a hand in lighting homes via the National Gas Grid.

With best-in-class produce sitting at its heart – from Wildfarmed flour, direct trade speciality beans and even cleaning products chosen for their green credentials – the food service business wanted to address an oft-overlooked area: the unavoidable food waste that arises from daily operations.

Be this shells, bones and gristle, spoiled produce or plate scrapings, waste is common in food service, but its environmental consequences are significant. And with no solution to manage this waste, the vast majority ends up in the residual waste stream and, by proxy, landfill.

Rethinking food waste

Enter ReFood and its environmentally friendly AD solution.

Working with cafés, restaurants, hotels and other food businesses across the UK, ReFood collects more than 400,000 tonnes of waste every year, recycling it to create renewable energy and biofertiliser at its anaerobic digestion (AD) sites in Dagenham, Doncaster and Widnes.

The AD process captures biogas produced during the natural degradation of food.

This biogas can be combusted to produce renewable electricity, or further processed and injected directly into the National Gas Grid.

The leftover residue from the AD process can be used as an accredited nutrient-rich biofertilizer, reintroducing beneficial nutrients back into the beginning of the food supply chain.

For Marmadukes, partnering with ReFood has allowed the business to eliminate the landfilling of food waste and cut its waste management costs by 50%. What’s more, ReFood’s ‘bin swap’ service means smelly bins are timeously collected and replaced with empty, sanitised replacements that can be used in the kitchen.

Marmadukes 2

Icing on the cake

“Rather than simply adopting a new waste management solution, working with ReFood has allowed us to think differently about waste – and how to maximise the value of resource that was previously simply landfilled,”​ said Clare Nye, who together with husband Tim opened a café on Norfolk Row in 2011. The company has subsequently grown to three cafés, a sourdough bakery and pastry kitchen in Sheffield.

“Prior to working with ReFood, we didn’t appreciate the environmental damage of our food scraps. Now, we’re on a mission to eradicate general waste wherever possible.

“Being able to use bins in kitchen areas makes it easy for our team to separate and dispose of food waste. While many would consider the idea of food waste recycling costly, complicated and expensive, we’ve found the opposite to be true. ReFood empties our bins on a schedule – and frequency – to suit our needs and the whole process was adopted seamlessly. What’s more, with no landfill tax applicable to the food waste sent for recycling, we’re saving a huge amount on our waste management bills.

“With consumers putting an ever-greater value on the sustainable and ethical practices of hospitality venues and their suppliers, the implementation of our food waste recycling strategy helps us to demonstrate to our customers that we are taking the issue very seriously.

“Our partnership with ReFood is the icing on the cake to our existing initiatives focused on driving sustainability across the business.” 

Tackling the issue head on

ReFood Dagenham

Added ReFood’s commercial director Philip Simpson, “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 service is very popular with customers because we take away full bins and replace them with clean, sanitised ones. We also develop a collection schedule to suit each customer’s needs.

“Every year, the hospitality sector throws away millions of tonnes of food waste.

“Marmadukes is a great example of a business tackling the issue head-on and embracing innovative solutions to prevent valuable resources from ending up in landfill.”

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