Skip to main content
Food waste

Cater for Later food box scheme

  • Leftovers

    Leftover food is the food people leave on their plates. Leftovers account for one third of all waste from cafés, restaurants and other food businesses in Belfast. We have introduced the Cater for Later food box scheme to encourage diners to ask for their leftovers.

  • Bringing home leftovers

    Our Cater for Later food box scheme provides compostable boxes to restaurants and cafés so you can take your leftovers home. 

    By bringing the food home to eat later, you’re helping the environment by making sure less food is sent for disposal. You're also making your money go further by getting the full value of your meal.

  • How Cater for Later can help a restaurant or café business

    By taking part in the scheme, you can:

    • improve customer service because customers will feel more comfortable about asking for their leftovers
    • upsell additional starter, main or dessert courses
    • help the environment by reducing food waste.
  • Food safety information for food businesses

    Your business serves safe food to customers that is hygienically prepared. By law, restaurants and cafés in Northern Ireland can give customers their leftovers when asked. But food businesses are not obliged to. If food has already been reheated or will pass the use by date within 24 hours, you must not allow this food to be taken away as leftovers.

    If a customer asks to take home their leftovers in a Cater for Later box from your restaurant or café, you must advise them on how to handle, store and reheat the food safely. When the customer takes home the leftovers, they are responsible for how the food is handled, stored, and reheated safely.

  • Food safety information for customers

    If you bring home your leftovers in a Cater for Later box, you are responsible for the food’s safety. This means safely and correctly handling, storing and reheating the leftovers. You should:

    • keep the food in the Cater for Later box and put it in the fridge within two hours, making sure the fridge temperature is below 5°C
    • reheat the food until it is piping hot through to the centre and eat it immediately
    • eat the food within 24 hours
    • put remaining leftovers in your food waste bin - do not keep or reheat again.

    If you are serving the food cold, serve direct from the fridge.

  • Register your interest in Cater for Later scheme

    If you want your business to take part in the scheme, register for Cater for Later (link opens in new window)

  • Disposing of a Cater for Later box

    Our boxes are made from food grade cardboard and are suitable for composting. After using, you should put the box in your food and garden waste bin.

  • Safety and Environment Advice Service

    Get help from our Safety and Environment Advice Service. The Safety and Environmental Advice Service can give businesses free, impartial advice to help meet legislative health and safety requirements. They can also advise on conducting risk assessments and developing workplace health plans.

    To contact us, email or call 028 9032 8260.

  • Sign the Belfast Litter Pledge

    We are asking businesses to help us keep Belfast streets clean. By signing the Belfast Business Litter Pledge, you’ll show your customers, staff and colleagues that you care about keeping Belfast an attractive place to live, work and visit.

     We will give you a free litter kit with:

    • a litter pick
    •  gloves
    • dustpan and brush
    • pocket ashtrays
    • a Belfast Litter Pledge certificate
    • Belfast Litter Pledge window sticker.

    Sign up to Belfast Litter Pledge

    You can also email

Read aloud icon Read aloud