Restaurant waste collection

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Restaurant waste collection in numbers

<h3><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">28,705</a></h3>


28,705 registered restaurants

<h3><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">37,465</a></h3>


37,465 takeaway food shops

<h3><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">7,000</a></h3>


7,000 street food mobile vendors

Compare restaurant waste collection

Reasons to compare commercial waste collection services for your restaurant.

Save money

Save money

Compare waste service providers to find competitive rates and flexible services tailored to your needs.

Diverse waste streams

Diverse waste streams

Arrange for separate collections, including food packaging and oil offered by comprehensive waste management services.

Excellent customer service

Excellent customer service

Assess waste collection providers’ reputations and track records to ensure reliable, high-quality service delivery.

Restaurant waste collection and disposal

Navigating the complexities of restaurant waste collection and disposal is crucial for maintaining sustainability and adhering to regulatory standards.

Here’s a straightforward guide to help restaurants effectively manage and minimise waste outputs.

We will cover the following subjects in detail:

Restaurant waste streams

Restaurants generate several types of waste that can impact their operation and the environment. Understanding these various types of waste is essential for effective management and sustainability practices.

<h3>Food waste</h3>

Food waste

Food waste is generated by over-purchasing, improper storage, and oversized portions. It also includes unused ingredients, spoiled produce, and leftover customer meals.

<h3>Packaging waste</h3>

Packaging waste

Common examples are cardboard boxes, plastic wraps, and food containers – largely resulting from bulk ingredient purchases.

Plastic waste from the packaging and wraps is a huge contributor to restaurant waste.

<h3>Cooking oil</h3>

Cooking oil

Used cooking oil and grease accumulate from frying and cooking processes. Improper handling and lack of recycling options often lead to inappropriate disposal, by pouring down a drain or cross-contaminating.

<h3>Paper waste</h3>

Paper waste

Paper waste includes Items such as napkins, paper towels, and disposable menus used in restaurant operations.



Glass waste is from drinks served, including soft and alcoholic beverages as well as breakages of glassware by both staff and customers.

<h3>Organic waste</h3>

Organic waste

Separate from food waste, restaurants produce other organic waste from floral decorations and biodegradable dining utensils, which can arise from table settings and eco-friendly service options.

<h3>General waste</h3>

General waste

It encompasses all refuse that cannot be recycled or composted. This includes a mix of non-recyclable materials such as food packaging, used napkins, waxed paper cups, plastic cutlery, and any contaminated paper products.

Cooking oil collection for restaurants - national providers

<h3><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Olleco</a></h3>


Olleco offers tailored services to the restaurant sector, aiding them in addressing the climate emergency by converting their waste resources into renewable energy.

Olleco has become one of the UK’s leading collectors of used cooking oil and food waste, supporting sustainable practices within the restaurant industry.

<h3><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cateroils</a></h3>


Cater Oils, a family-operated business, specialises in waste oil collection and cooking oil services.

Cater Oils collects used cooking oils from various establishments for recycling into biofuels, ensuring an environmentally friendly approach to oil disposal.

Their waste cooking oil disposal facility processes all collected oil for recycling, and notably, Cater Oils guarantees that 100% of the waste cooking oil they collect is repurposed into bio-diesel.

<h3><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Quatra</a></h3>


Quatra specialises on cooking oil collection services. Understanding the importance of proper oil disposal in the culinary sector, Quatra offers comprehensive solutions tailored to the needs of restaurants and food establishments.

One notable aspect of their service is the provision of complimentary oil storage containers, designed to facilitate the safe and efficient storage of used cooking oil on-site.

Waste minimisation strategies for restaurants

Restaurants face significant challenges in managing waste, but effective strategies can dramatically reduce their environmental impact and reduce expensive general waste collections.

Our waste experts outline practical steps for minimising waste in your establishment, helping you operate more sustainably and efficiently while reducing business waste collection costs.

<h3>Food waste audits</h3>

Food waste audits

Regular audits should be conducted to track and measure the amount of food waste produced.

Identifying the sources and types of waste can help develop targeted strategies to reduce waste, such as adjusting purchase orders and improving storage techniques.

<h3>Menu optimisation</h3>

Menu optimisation

Design menus to minimise waste using common ingredients across multiple dishes, thereby reducing the number of perishable items that must be kept in stock.

<h3>Portion control</h3>

Portion control

Adjust portion sizes to meet customer demand without excessive serving sizes that lead to leftover food.

Offering different portion sizes or the option to share dishes helps reduce food waste.



Implement a composting program for organic waste. Many areas in the UK support commercial composting facilities that can process food waste, turning it into valuable compost for agricultural or landscaping use.

<h3>Donation programs</h3>

Donation programs

Establish relationships with local charities to donate unsold but safe-to-eat food.

In the UK, organisations such as FareShare and The Trussell Trust can facilitate food donations, helping those in need while reducing waste.

<h3>Waste tracking software</h3>

Waste tracking software

Utilise technology solutions that can help track waste production in real-time, providing actionable insights into managing resources better and reducing waste.

💡Did you know

Restaurants generate over 199,000 tonnes of waste yearly, highlighting the industry’s significant role in reducing food waste. The entire food service sector, including restaurants, contributes about 12% of the total food waste in the UK.

Commercial bins in restaurants: Types and strategic placement

Explore the essential types and strategic placement of commercial bins to streamline waste management and uphold sustainability standards.

This guide covers everything from general waste to specialised recycling solutions, ensuring efficiency and compliance in your establishment.

<h3>General waste bin</h3>

General waste bin

Placement: Typically located in the kitchen and dining area for easy access.

Common materials: Non-recyclable waste such as wrappers and contaminated paper products.

Reason: Manages everyday waste that cannot be recycled or composted, keeping operational areas clean.

<h3>Recycling bin</h3>

Recycling bin

Placement: Found in kitchen and public areas like the dining room.

Common materials: Clean paper, cardboard, plastics, glass bottles, and cans.

Reason: Separates recyclable materials from general waste, reducing landfill contribution and supporting environmental sustainability.

<h3>Food waste bin</h3>

Food waste bin

Placement: Usually in the kitchen area.

Common materials: Food scraps, coffee grounds, and spoiled ingredients.

Reason: Diverts organic waste from landfills to prevent anaerobic decomposition, reducing methane emissions and producing compost for soil enrichment.

<h3>Used cooking oil container</h3>

Used cooking oil container

Placement: Typically located near the kitchen or at a back exit, away from customer areas.

Common materials: Waste cooking oil and grease.

Reason: Prevents improper disposal down drains, avoiding sewer blockages and environmental contamination. Enables recycling into biodiesel and other products.

<h3>Glass only bin</h3>

Glass only bin

Placement: Often placed in bar areas where glass bottles are frequently used.

Common materials: Glass bottles and jars.

Reason: Facilitates glass recycling, which can be endlessly recycled without losing purity or quality.

<h3>Food donation bin</h3>

Food donation bin

Placement: In the kitchen or storage areas where access can be controlled.

Common materials: Unspoiled surplus food that is safe for consumption.

Reason: Reduces food waste and supports community food banks or charities, enhancing the restaurant’s community support and waste reduction efforts.

Restaurant oil collection: The cooking oil conundrum

One of the biggest issues in the restaurant industry is the inability to dispose of and recycle cooking oil easily.

Our experts explore the current issues with disposing of oil and its impacts on the environment, as well as solutions.

The biggest issues with the disposal of cooking oil are:

<h3>Environmental impact</h3>

Environmental impact

Using cooking oil can have significant environmental consequences if not disposed of properly.

Pouring it down drains can lead to sewage system blockages and contribute to larger environmental problems like water contamination.

This is because oils and fats solidify and accumulate, restricting water flow and potentially leading to sewage overflows.

<h3>Recycling complexity</h3>

Recycling complexity

While cooking oil can be recycled and processed into biodiesel, animal feed, or even cosmetics, the recycling process is complex.

The oil must be collected, stored properly to avoid contamination, and transported to a recycling facility. This requires coordination and can be cost-prohibitive for some smaller establishments.

<h3>Storage and handling</h3>

Storage and handling

Used cooking oils must be stored to prevent spills, which are difficult to clean and can attract pests.

This requires space and suitable containers, which can be an additional expense and logistical challenge for restaurants.

<h3>Limited recycling facilities</h3>

Limited recycling facilities

In some areas, nearby facilities that accept and process used cooking oil might be lacking. This limits restaurant recycling options and might encourage improper disposal methods.

<h3>Contamination of oil</h3>

Contamination of oil

Used cooking oil often becomes contaminated with food particles, complicating recycling.

Contamination requires additional filtering and processing steps before the oil can be reused or transformed into products like biodiesel, increasing the complexity and cost of recycling.

<h3>Volume and Variability</h3>

Volume and Variability

Restaurants generate variable amounts of used cooking oil. Smaller quantities might not be economically viable for recycling companies to collect, leaving restaurants with no practical recycling options.

Managing large volumes of oil requires more sophisticated storage and collection strategies, adding to operational complexities.

Solutions for waste cooking oil

Our waste experts explore the different options for disposing or recycling waste cooking oil.

They are:

  • Reuse within the restaurant: In some cases, cooking oil can be filtered and reused for cooking several times before it needs to be discarded. This requires proper filtration techniques to ensure the oil remains safe and effective for cooking.
  • Industrial uses: Used cooking oil can also be processed in other industries, such as producing soaps, detergents, or cosmetics.
  • Local recycling programs: Some local councils have programs for collecting and recycling cooking oil, which can sometimes be dropped off at designated recycling centres.
  • Recycling into biodiesel: Cooking oil can be collected and recycled into a renewable diesel fuel. This method is popular because it converts waste into usable energy, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Professional waste oil collection services: Many companies specialise in collecting and recycling used cooking oil. These services often provide containers for storing the used oil and schedule regular pickups, making it convenient for restaurants to manage their oil waste responsibly.

What are the environmental impacts of the improper disposal of waste cooking oil?

Improper disposal of waste cooking oil can lead to severe environmental issues.

Oil pouring down drains can solidify, creating fatbergs that block sewer systems, potentially leading to costly and unsanitary overflows.

Discharged into waterways, it forms a surface film that depletes oxygen and disrupts aquatic ecosystems. If disposed of on land, it contaminates the soil and groundwater, harming plant life and potentially affecting water supplies.

Failing to recycle waste oil also squanders a valuable resource that could be transformed into biodiesel or other products—missing opportunities to support sustainable practices.

The financial benefit of effective waste management in the restaurant industry

Waste management in most sectors is a matter of compliance. The government sets rules that dictate how waste must be stored and disposed of, and as a responsible business owner, you follow these. However, in the food and beverage sector, the story is different.

Effective waste management in a restaurant can significantly enhance financial outcomes.

Our Director, Ben Brading, a Chartered Accountant, explains why:

At the top of the government’s waste hierarchy is ‘prevention’, as the most effective form of waste management for restaurants is to purchase ingredients efficiently, resulting in fewer leftovers.

Efficiently managing food purchases not only reduces leftovers but also cuts costs. According to WRAP data, the average cost of avoidable food waste per cover is 97 pence.

While this may seem trivial, it amounts to £3.2 billion annually for the industry.

Eliminating avoidable food waste directly improves a restaurant’s gross profit margin by reducing direct costs while maintaining customer charges.

A secondary benefit occurs in operating costs, where you’ll reduce business waste collection costs by reducing your exposure to the landfill tax.