The modern food service industry is responsible for a lot of waste. We’re talking millions of pounds of waste each year.
According to Sustainable Foodservice.com, the biggest culprits are misplaced compostables, recyclables, and food packaging. They estimate that 75% of material in today's landfill is recyclable or compostable. That’s a huge amount of waste simply due to ineffective process and lack of creativity.
Not only are conserving and choosing sustainable resources better for the environment, but restaurants benefit from reconsidering their food disposal and general sustainability. Creating a waste management program begins with implementing rules surrounding recycling and composting, monitoring the amount of food ordered from suppliers, and rethinking what’s considered garbage.
Recycle and Compost the Right Way
Waste should be sorted into three categories: compost, recycling, and landfill. Your bins for each should be clearly labelled, and your staff aware of what exactly can go in each one. For example, most grease, meat and bones are not compostable, but used paper towel is. To ensure that everything goes into the correct bin and your garbage sorting is accurate, find a guide or cheatsheet specific to your area and post it by the garbage, or label each bin with a yes list that points out what can go in each one.
Audit Your Ordering
Using a combination of inventory tracking and sales projections, restaurants can save on food ordering costs. Inventory tracking allows you to see what you have in stock and what’s running low so you can create specials using food that might be nearing its last legs. Sales projections, in turn, allow you to order supplies more effectively so that you avoid buying in excess.
You can also reduce how much food you waste by taking a hard look at your menu and adjusting portion sizes to reflect how much your customers actually consume.
Rethinking Your Trash
The US Environmental Protection agency found that between 4% and 10% of food purchased by food service operations is trashed before reaching the plate, which means that you need to think of ways to use what you’re tossing. The ends and peels of vegetables, off cuts of meat, bones, fish heads and skins, could be used to make broth or sauces, or add flavor to a dish through techniques like frying, dehydrating, or steaming. Check out our post, Game of Bones for more ideas on repurposing refuse.
Waste not, want not is a golden rule for restaurants. Already running on tight margins and points of percentages, considering the cost of your trash is as important to your bottom line as it is to your impact on the environment.
About the Author
Andrea is a Content Marketing Specialist and Editor at TouchBistro where she writes about restaurant and dining trends, restaurant management, and food culture. A self-affirmed food geek, Andrea devours cookbooks and food blogs. She also knows how to make a killer kale salad.More Content by Andrea Victory