How to have a zero waste barbecue

As soon as the sun shows his face for longer than 10 minutes, us Brits can’t wait to get our shorts on and light the barbecue.

But have you stopped to think about the landfill waste you might be creating?

What with disposable barbecues, too much food and paper plates, you might find eating al fresco increases both your waist and your waste!

According to the National BBQ Association, the average family has nine barbecues during the summer and spends around £35 on food and drink each time.

So let’s make sure the food ends up in our bellies not our bins and we minimise our impact on the environment as well as our wallets.

‘Value’ packs

It’s tempting to pick up a value pack of barbecue meat but think about the quality and the packaging.

Most bulk packs are on hard plastic or polystyrene trays which cannot be recycled easily and the food is poor quality, containing fillers and plenty of things you don’t want to know about!

By supporting your local butcher, you can buy exactly the amount you need to avoid food waste.

Yes it might be more expensive but the quality will be better which means you can eat less to feel satisfied.

Plus, SOME local butchers will happily fill your own reusable containers to avoid plastic waste.

Compost your plates

Top of the list is to use real crockery that can be washed and reused.

But if you’re planning a big celebration it might not be practical.

You can hire crockery if you’re so inclined or even ask your friends to bring their own plate.

If you must opt for disposable plates and cups, choose something that is fully compostable.


Provide a recycling container for beer cans and glass bottles and encourage your guests to use them.

This reduces the amount of clearing up you have to do and the recyclables will already have been sorted.

Separate aluminium foil, tetra pak cartons and plastic bottles – in fact anything you can recycle locally.


it’s tempting to buy a disposable barbecue and throw it away after use, but what a waste of resources.

With a few house bricks and the shelves from your oven, you can put together a make shift barbie in no time.

Our last barbecue was made from an old fire grate and broken garden sieve!

Think about how often you use a barbecue; if you only have one or two a year, you might be better off borrowing from a friend or scheme like Streetbank.


Allow leftovers to cool then store them in the fridge.

Make sandwiches, curries or a casserole from leftover meat and use salads and vegetables in soups or chopped up and stirred through cooked rice or pasta.

Likewise with serving food – any tired looking veggies can be put onto skewers; once they are chargrilled and served with a dip, they soon perk up!

What about you – how do you enjoy a zero waste barbecue?

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Rachelle Strauss

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