5 Tips for Reducing Waste In A Commercial Kitchen

Written in

April 6, 2023

Guest blog from Jack Feeny from No Mise En Plastic.

Guest blog from Jack Feeny from No Mise En Plastic.

No Mise en Plastic (NMEP) is a free online resource that helps chefs eliminate single-use products from the commercial kitchen. It is also a platform for a growing international network of chefs to share practical ways to reduce waste in our workplaces.

I spent years in catering kitchens, burning through vacuum bags and roll after roll of cling film. Then, after working at the single-use plastic free restaurant The Conduit, I realised how simple the alternatives were and within days I was weaned off cling film and focused on finding a use for every bit of food. I then started this project.

Time is precious in the kitchen and chefs don’t have time to put in hours of research to find out how best to reduce waste. So the manual was created with this in mind. Using my research and the help of chefs and industry changemakers, I put together a user-friendly resource, containing alternative techniques, reusable replacements and waste-reducing recipes.

Why should independent food businesses make changes?

Reducing waste coming out of your business and creating a positive climate narrative can:

  • attract customers and improve loyalty.
  • make your business values more attractive, so that you retain employees.
  • save you money.

5 changes that you can make right now!

Keep in mind that every commercial kitchen is different and each business will require different alternatives and solutions. Not all of these tips may be of use to you!

1. Swap out cling film for containers with lids. Purchase more airtight containers to store freshly baked products and have containers suitable for larger prep jobs and for proofing doughs. Check out the Cling film page in the manual for tips like how to stop a skin forming on prepared foods.

2. Switch out plastic coated labels for kraft paper tape. Plastic coated labels are expensive, impossible to peel off containers and millions end up in landfill every year. Try using recycled kraft paper tape instead. It’s a lot cheaper and can be composted or recycled with the cardboard once you’re finished.

Pidgin restaurant in London - more and more chefs are catching on!

3. Start recycling your foil.

The amount of energy needed to produce aluminium from its raw materials is huge. Luckily for us it’s endlessly recyclable and melting used aluminium requires only 5% of the energy used to make aluminium from ore. When recycling foil, the bigger the ball the better.

Foil balls smaller than a tennis ball sometimes don't make it to the recycling facility. Make sure your foil is free from food waste but a little bit of oil and food residue is fine. Try rolling the foil so food residue can’t spread to other items being sent for recycling. Burnt or black foil is also fine to recycle - it’s just carbon and it will be burnt off in the recycling process. Less is always best, so check out our manual for tips on how to avoid foil altogether.

This foil ball is ready to go!

4. Purchase silicone baking mats and use compostable baking paper.

Baking paper also uses a lot of energy to produce and often, due to its coating, can stay in landfill for as long as plastic. Silicone baking mats are the perfect alternative, followed by some compostable baking paper. Links to both can be found on the baking paper page of the manual. Before reaching for the paper though, try just giving a good old-fashioned greasing and line your tins with the appropriate fat.

Compostable baking paper being used at Eat Your Greens restaurant in Leeds

5. Get yourself a pair of reusable, food-safe gloves.

Millions of plastic gloves end up in our waste streams every year and are completely unnecessary. Wearing gloves in the kitchen is not a health and safety requirement!

Offer reusable, latex-free and food safe gloves as an alternative to those disposable blues. They come in all sizes and the best thing is you can slip them off and on mid job! You can find a link on the Gloves Page of the manual.


Finding the right packaging that fits your food safety requirements, that delivers your product the way you want it and that doesn’t harm the environment, is difficult. There is no one size fits all. If you’d like to talk more about options or you would like to tap into our network, then send an email to info@nmeplastic.com.

Whilst extremely important and an easy place to start, stopping to use single-use products does not make your business sustainable - it’s just one part of the picture.

There are so many practical solutions on our website collected from chefs globally, so take a look through our website and instagram. Also, if you have a technique or zero-waste hack you’d like to share, then let us know!

Food Waste

Locating and reducing your food waste is another great opportunity to lower your business environmental impact. There are endless ways to get creative and re-purpose off-cuts and surplus ingredients that would otherwise go to waste.

There is money to be made from a bit of bin diving. Just ask Daniel Watkins of ACME Fire Cult. Daniel creates coffee kombucha from the cafe next door’s spent grounds and he turns their squeezed citrus into Kosho, both to be used and sold in the restaurant. Bin diving is a great way to get creative in the kitchen.

Daniel Watkins leek top kimchi - recipe on our website!

The suppliers you use matter!

Choosing the right suppliers and produce is the best way a food business can reduce their impact on the climate crisis. Farming is the only industry that can sequester and store carbon and It really should be the farmers who lead food businesses across the country. Farmers should dictate menus by growing what they need to grow in order to protect their soil biology and chefs should use their skills to convert what they are given into something delicious.

Look for transparent suppliers that use regenerative agricultural practices and who actively restore soil health and increase biodiversity. Diversify the items you normally buy and follow the seasons. Shrub provisions, Hodemedods and Wild Farmed are all fantastic suppliers but there are so many smaller businesses also with great credentials. We have plans to create a supplier list to celebrate those growing or producing food the right way. Keep your eyes peeled!

For more information please visit: No Mise En Plastic or follow them on Instagram for regular free tips!