Latest News

Mobile caterer’s guide to bins and waste

Maintaining food safety and hygiene has to be a number one priority for any mobile caterer and their team. There are strict guidelines to follow and anyone operating in a kitchen where food is prepared for sale needs to stick to them. But we’re not just talking about food storage and preparation here, we’re also talking about proper waste management, too.

Whether you’re setting up a new mobile catering business for the first time or just need a refresher for new staff, our Mobilers guide to bins and waste will be super-useful.

As well as following guidelines to the letter, a key tool for managing any risk is having the right insurance cover for your business. The helpful team at Mobilers is always available to answer any questions you may have when it comes to catering public liability insurance or other policies. Give us a call today, and let us help you to manage your business risks effectively.

Putting food in compost

Waste management for mobile caterers

Unlike a bricks and mortar café or restaurant, as a mobile catering business most of the food and drink you serve will be taken away by your customers. However, despite this, waste from your business can still cause you a big problem if you haven’t considered how to dispose of it all.

Food waste in particular is a hot topic at the moment with hundreds of millions of pounds in food wasted by the catering industry every year. While there are also strict rules about how food waste is disposed of by commercial kitchens.

But other waste is also important including glass, mixed recyclable materials such as paper, plastic and cardboard, and other general waste.

And just because your customers take a lot of the rubbish away with them doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry. Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act mobile caterers are also responsible for clearing up any litter around their site that has originated from their activities. For example, this would include take-away food or drink packaging.

Staying on the right side of the law is an important part of any successful business. Give Mobilers a call and tell us exactly how your business operates. We’ll then be able to explain what insurance cover you must have by law, and other cover you should consider. As well as catering public liability insurance, this might also include special insurance for your vehicle and its contents.

Food waste disposal and the law

As a food business you might not immediately be looking as far ahead as how you’re going to dispose of waste from the food you’re preparing. But if you want to stay in business then you really must.

And thinking in advance about how you are going to deal with food waste while preparing meals is a great way to keep kitchen health and safety on track.

The Food Standards Agency has clear guidelines and advice for all aspects of food safety, including your mobile catering business. Whether you’re in a burger van, Jiffy truck, or even a converted horsebox if you prepare food that’s to be eaten then you need to follow the guidance set out.

If you’re a responsible food business owner then these are pretty clear and simple rules to follow. When looking at all the aspects of food safety, across food handling, storage and disposal of waste in your mobile catering kitchen, you need to keep them in mind.

After all, kitchen food safety doesn’t just apply to what is consumable. The correct disposal of food waste is an integral part of keeping your mobile kitchen clean, hygienic and safe. There are a few key tips you should be aware of when it comes to food waste:

  • Remove waste and rubbish from food prep areas as soon as possible to avoid them building up. Cleaning as you go is an important part of food preparation.
  • Keep bins in convenient locations as close as possible to where the waste is produced.
  • Make sure bins don’t become over-filled. So, get into the habit of emptying them regularly so they don’t get too heavy and don’t spend too long in the kitchen environment.
  • Your food waste bins and containers must be sealable, not open to the air.
  • Food waste bins must be solid and strong, kept in sound condition, and easy to clean and disinfect. You must make sure they’re regularly rinsed and refreshed.
  • All food waste bins should be kept where they can’t be reached by pests.
  • Follow government advice on how to dispose of food and former foodstuffs. If food waste contains products of animal origin, you must dispose of them in the correct way so as not to create a risk to health. The different ways depend on whether they’re ‘Higher Risk’ such as raw meat, fish and seafood; ‘Medium Risk’ including pies, pasties and pizza; or ‘Lower Risk’ such as bakery products that don’t contain meat, fish or shellfish.
  • You must ensure waste is not a direct or indirect source of contamination. Whether by directly touching food preparation surfaces or by attracting pests. Such contamination could easily cause illness in those who eat your food, which could see you claiming on your catering public liability insurance.
  • You should always get rid of your waste in a hygienic and environmentally friendly way. Get in touch with your local licensing authority to find out what you need to do to dispose of waste in the correct way.
  • Having a well-designed kitchen waste management system will help you seamlessly dispose of any food waste. For example, during food prep, scraps can be placed into containers before being emptied into a larger food waste bin. In turn, this can be transferred to the outdoor bin for your waste collection provider.

Whether food poisoning from contaminated food or food that’s past its use by date, protecting your customers from harm is the most important part of your business responsibilities. While having the right catering public liability insurance to help deal with such claims is important, it’s also much better to stop the claims from happening in the first place!

Mobilers doesn’t just specialise in catering public liability insurance. We also have many interesting articles to help you with your business. Wondering about the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates ? Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered. Are you looking for some easy marketing tips? Or you want to conduct a risk assessment for your mobile catering van? These are all subjects we’ve covered recently.

How do you dispose of cooking oil, fats and grease?

Unfortunately, many people in the UK, whether cooking at home or in commercial kitchens, don’t know how to properly dispose of waste cooking oils, fats and grease. Many people simply wash them down the sink!

However, if you’re a catering business that produces waste cooking oil then you need to ensure it’s stored and disposed of correctly. The Food Standards Agency says that pouring it down drains or sewers causes blockages, bad smells, vermin problems, and polluted water courses, which leads to problems for wildlife. Indeed, it warns that if you do so then you could potentially be prosecuted. For example, this Shrewsbury restaurant was ordered to pay over £9,000 after admitting blocking sewers with oil and grease.

Not only could fat, oil and grease play havoc with your vehicle’s drainage system but also local sewers. We’ve all seen the truly disgusting pictures of the so-called ‘fatbergs’ sat beneath our streets causing many millions of pounds worth of damage every year.

South West Water advises you to take these four easy steps to dispose of general fat, oil and grease that will keep them away from your pipes.

  • Scrape - Ensure that any food waste is scraped from pans or plates into bins or food waste recycling before washing.
  • Collect - Use a gunk pot or other similar container to collect any cooled fats, oils and grease from roasting trays, pans or pots.
  • Wipe - Give plates and pans a wipe with a paper kitchen towel to remove any liquid fat or grease before washing. This means there should be minimal amounts of grease or oil being rinsed away at this point.
  • Empty - Empty your gunk pot into your food waste bin for appropriate disposal.

You could also consider installing a grease trap to catch such waste and keep your drains and pipes really clean and fresh. Remember, even small amounts of fat, oil, grease and food waste can contribute to blocked drains. So, think sink!

Be aware that large quantities of waste cooking oil cannot be thrown out with the rest of the catering or kitchen waste. This is because it can cause spillages, leading to bad smells and pollution problems. Speak to your waste management company about the correct disposal of used cooking oils.

Local authorities have the power to inspect your premises and if they decide you're not disposing of used cooking oils correctly, then they have the power to fine or even shut businesses down.

Kitchen bin

Risks of not properly disposing of waste

There are many risks to your mobile catering business caused by failing to dispose of waste properly. As well as food safety hazards, waste is also likely to attract pests. While rubbish and spillages that aren’t cleared away can result in staff or customers slipping and tripping.

Alongside those risks, improperly stored waste also damages the general hygiene and cleanliness of your business, which can affect your overall hygiene rating and company reputation. Not to mention the health and wellbeing of your customers and staff!

From slips and trips to nasty burns and food poisoning, there are plenty of hazards for the unwary. Hopefully nothing will ever go wrong at your mobile catering business, but if it does it’s vital you have adequate catering public liability insurance in place. Because if a legal claim for injuries or damage is brought against your business then it could be the end of your foodie empire dreams if you’re not covered.

Wondering exactly what catering liability insurance your mobile catering company needs? Then read our helpful Mobilers guide to this tricky area.

Tips for cutting food waste

While disposing of food waste properly is a great idea, something else worth considering is whether you can cut down on the food waste you’re producing in the first place. We’ve got lots of top tips on how to cut food waste from your mobile catering van  elsewhere on our site.

One of the many great ideas is to sign up to the Too Good to Go app. And did you know that members of the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) get their first annual admin fee waived? Simply go to the Too Good to Go website, enter your details, and you’ll get a call from Too Good To Go.

Membership of the NCASS gives you access to lots of advice and offers tailored specifically for mobile caterers. In a similar way, if you arrange catering public liability insurance through Mobilers you’ll get access to exclusive products and schemes not available elsewhere.

Bins, glorious bins! Which one is right for your business?

Okay, it might not be the type of conversation to get even the most obsessed mobile caterer excited but the subject of which bin is best for your business is still an important one. The catering supply experts over at Nisbets have all the bins you could possibly need. But let’s take a quick look at the four main factors you’ll need to take into account.

Type of bin

There are a number of different options to choose from when looking for the right type of waste and recycling bins for your mobile catering business. And as a food business where food contamination awareness is of huge importance, choosing the right bin that enables easy use is advisable.

  • Pedal bins
    Probably the most hygienic type of bin available. Simply pressing the foot pedal, allows for hands-free waste disposal and reduces the risk of spreading bacteria and contamination in your kitchen. This also enables you to carry large amounts of waste with both hands. The tight-fitting lids also make them perfect for keeping odours at a minimum and hiding waste from sight.
  • Recycling bins
    Anything that helps you meet sustainability goals and creates a positive environmental impact is good for business. Colour-coded lids and labelled stickers make it much easier for staff and customers to identify the right bin for each material. From general waste bins and composting to plastic, can and glass recycling there are plenty to choose from.
  • Swing bins and waste bins
    Simple and easy to use. But probably not suitable for inside the kitchen as swing bins require hand contact and waste bins don’t tend to have lids. However, they can be useful for collecting bulky packaging items or in areas where customers need to dispose of small items such as tea and coffee stirrers.
  • Sack Trolleys
    They might need hand contact to operate, but they are very manoeuvrable, which can make waste disposal easier.
  • Bullet bins
    With their sleek appearance these tend to be great for customer areas. But with touch lid mechanisms, slim design and limited capacity they’re probably not suitable for busy kitchens or vans with minimal space.
  • Slim Jim bins
    With a slim design these are a good way to help free up valuable floor space in your trailer without compromising on safety and practicality.

If you simply can’t decide which is best for you, don’t worry you can pick more than one! Indeed, you’ll probably want a few different bins depending on whether you’re dealing with food waste, recycling or other general kitchen waste.

Type of bin material

Bins suitable for mobile catering businesses tend to come in two materials, plastic or stainless steel.

Plastic

  • Budget friendly – Tend to be cheaper.
  • Easy to clean – Plastic is non-porous so is very easy to disinfect.
  • Lightweight – Easy to lift, carry and empty.
  • Durable – Tend to be long lasting.
  • Range of colours – They’re great for colour-coded cleaning. Although they aren’t always the most stylish.

Stainless steel

  • Strong and crack resistant – Although they can get dented.
  • Stylish – Stainless steel always looks classy. You’ll need to keep them clean and polished to avoid smudges and finger marks.
  • Fire resistant – If hot items such as cigarettes are thrown in, then this will help prevent fires.

What size should you get?

Bins can range from as small as 25 litres to as large as 125 litres and over. Just like Goldilocks it’s important to get the size of the bin just right when it comes to mobile catering. If it’s too small then it may frequently overflow or else need to be emptied many times a day. On the other hand, buying a bin that’s too big will use up all-important floor space.

When deciding on the best size bin for your needs, consider the following:

  • What type of waste do you produce? For example, if you collect a lot of glass then it’s going to fill up a lot faster than one collecting paper waste that’s easy to pack down.
  • What type of kitchen do you have? A small barista truck may only need bins with capacities of around 25-75 litres. However, a larger state-of-the-art airstream trailer that produces a greater quantity of waste over the day may need bins with capacities of over 75 litres.
  • How often do you empty your bins? If you’re emptying it daily then you’ll need a smaller capacity than if it’s emptied weekly.
  • Who will be emptying the bins? Large bins can be difficult to carry and empty and you don’t want to injure your staff.

What’s the best shape for a bin?

And finally, what shape of bin will you choose? Depending on where you’re going to place it you could choose between a round, square or rectangular bin. Square and rectangular bins are great for pushing into corners or against walls. Rounded bins are more easily moved around and tend to look a bit better.

Round bin

Catering public liability insurance from Mobilers

Mobilers has been arranging competitive insurance for mobile caterers since 1996. As specialists in areas such as catering public liability insurance, our experienced team can offer you a range of policy benefits.

If required due to a contract or event, then catering public liability insurance policies can be extended to £10m for public or product liability at no extra cost. It really is easy to protect your mobile catering business through us.

Get a quick quote for catering public liability insurance from Mobilers today.

Share this on: