As of today, the number of restaurants has increased significantly and so has the amount of food waste they produce. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the restaurant industry contributes to over 63 million tons of food waste each year in the United States alone.
While some restaurants are working diligently to reduce their food waste, there is still much room for improvement.
The current statistics regarding global food waste is truly alarming if you know just how much food is wasted every day, week, month, and year. It’s no secret that restaurants play a role in this epidemic.
There are many ways restaurants can help reduce food waste. From small efforts like using smaller plates to more significant changes like donating extra food, there are a number of ways restaurants can make a difference.
If you’re reading this, you may be a restaurant owner or manager who’s in a unique position to make a real difference when it comes to reducing food waste. You have the power to implement changes that can have a big impact. Here are some things you can do:
Educate Your Staff About Food Waste
Awareness is the key to making people care. If your staff understands the problem of food waste and its impact on the environment, they’ll be more likely to take steps to reduce it.
Make sure your employees know what qualifies as food waste and how it should be handled. You can hold regular training sessions or post informational materials in common areas. The more informed your staff is, the better they’ll be at preventing food waste.
Some food waste guidelines you may want to share with your team include:
-Avoid pre-cutting vegetables and fruits. Only prep what will be used.
-Use up all leftover food before cooking new dishes.
-Donate extra food to local shelters or food banks instead of throwing it away.
Track Your Food Waste
You can’t reduce your food waste if you don’t know how much you’re wasting in the first place. Keep track of how much food is being thrown away each day, week, and month. This will help you identify areas where improvements can be made.
There are a few ways you can do this:
-Weigh your trash bins at the end of each day to see how much food waste they contain.
-Save all food waste in a separate container and weigh it at the end of each shift.
-Make a note of how much food is being wasted and what type of foods are being thrown away most often.
This data will be helpful in pinpointing problem areas so you can take steps to address them. You will also be able to find out which supplies are being wasted most often and make adjustments accordingly.
Donate Extra Food
One of the best ways to reduce food waste is to donate any extra food to those in need. This not only prevents perfectly good food from going to waste but also helps those who may not have enough to eat.
You’d be surprised to see how many edible food end up in the trash because they don’t meet restaurants’ aesthetic standards. Slightly bruised fruits and vegetables, for example, are perfectly fine to eat but are often thrown away because they don’t look “perfect.”
If you have extra food that’s still edible but won’t be served, consider donating it to a local food bank or shelter. There are also organizations that can help you donate your extra food, like Food Rescue US.
Implement Portion Control
One of the main reasons people waste food is because they’re served more than they can eat. This is especially common in restaurants where portion sizes are often larger than what one person can finish.
Portion control is an effective way to reduce the amount of food waste your restaurant produces. Serve food with standardized portions so that your customers only get what they can eat. This way, there’s less of a chance that food will be left behind on their plates.
You can also offer smaller portion sizes as an option for those who want to eat less. This is a great way to let customers choose how much they want to eat without wasting any food.
Take A Food Waste Seminar
If you want to learn more about how to reduce food waste in your restaurant, consider taking a food waste seminar. These seminars are usually led by industry experts who can teach you the latest methods for reducing food waste.
Food waste seminars are a great way to learn about all the different ways you can reduce food waste. They can also help with budgeting, re-allocating resources, and much more.
Some seminars even include practical lessons for your employees so that they can be more informed about food waste and how to prevent it.
A few popular food waste seminars include:
-The Food Waste Reduction Alliance’s “Waste Not, Want Not” Seminar
-The NRDC’s “Sustainable Food Management” Seminar
-The EPA’s “Food Recovery Challenge” Seminar
There are many other food waste seminars available, so be sure to do some research to find one that’s right for you.
Influence Your Customers
Now this one may require a bit more effort to do, but it’s definitely worth it. If you can influence your customers to waste less food, you’ll make a significant impact on the amount of food waste your restaurant produces.
There are a few ways you can do this:
-Educate them about the problem of food waste and how it affects the environment and those in need.
-Ask them to take leftovers home with them or order smaller portions.
-Encourage them to donate any extra food to a local food bank or shelter.
You can also lead by example and make sure your restaurant is doing its part to reduce food waste. This will show your customers that you’re serious about the issue and encourage them to do the same.
Create “For Sharing” Menu Items
If you have customers who come to your restaurant in large groups, consider creating menu items that are meant to be shared. This will prevent them from ordering too much food and wasting what they can’t eat.
Shared dishes are also a great way to get customers to try new things. They can sample a variety of different dishes without having to spend too much money or waste any food.
Some great “for sharing” menu items include appetizers, salads, soup, and dessert. Another benefit of having group meals is it provides a more cost-efficient option for your customers.
Including “for sharing” menu items is a great way to reduce food waste and get customers to try new things. It’s also a win-win for both your restaurant and your customers.
Why Today Is The Best Time To Start Reducing Food Waste
Aside from the global climate crisis, food waste has many negative impacts on our world. It costs businesses billions of dollars each year, it takes up valuable resources like water and land, and it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
Aside from environmental benefits, reducing food waste can significantly improve restaurant budgeting and food costs. It can also help with employee morale, as many people want to work for a business that’s doing its part to reduce waste.
In short, there are many reasons why you should start reducing food waste in your restaurant. And there’s no better time to start than today.
Other Ways To Make Your Restaurant Eco-Friendly
Reducing food waste is one way to make your restaurant more eco-friendly. But there are many other things you can do to make your business more sustainable. Here are a few ideas:
Switch to energy-efficient appliances
A full-sized commercial kitchen is filled with energy-hungry appliances. But there are now many energy-efficient options available that can help reduce your carbon footprint.
Some of the most popular energy-efficient appliances include:
- Energy Star refrigerators
- LED lighting
- Eco boilers
- Solar panels
Use sustainable and local ingredients
Using sustainable local ingredients greatly reduces logistic emissions from long-distance transportation. It also supports your local economy and helps reduce the overall carbon footprint of your restaurant.
Some great sustainable and local ingredients to use in your dishes include:
- Organic fruits and vegetables
- Grass-fed beef
- Free-range chicken
- Wild-caught fish
Use environmentally-friendly cleaning products
Every day restaurants wash hundreds of dishes, glasses, and utensils. And all of this washing requires a lot of water and cleaning products.
Fortunately, there are now many environmentally-friendly cleaning products available that use less water and fewer chemicals. These products are also safer for your employees and customers.
Some great eco-friendly cleaning products to use in your restaurant include:
- Eco-friendly dishwashing detergent
- Baking powder paste for all-purpose cleaning
- Organic glass cleaner
- Reusable microfiber cloths
Install solar panels
The amount of money you can save on electricity by installing solar panels will depend on the size of your restaurant and the amount of sunlight you get. But it’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money in the long run.
Compost food scraps
Food scraps can be used to create fertilizer, which can then be used to grow new food. This process reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfills and helps you create a sustainable cycle for your restaurant.
Some great items to compost include:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Coffee grounds
Use biodegradable to-go containers
To-go orders are becoming increasingly popular, which means more and more restaurants are using disposable to-go containers. And while these containers are convenient, they’re not very eco-friendly. You can opt to choose food packaging supplies made out of sustainable materials like bamboo, sugarcane, or recycled paper.
Encourage employees to carpool or take public transportation
There are endless possibilities when it comes to making your restaurant more eco-friendly. So start brainstorming and see what you can do to make a difference.
Get Rewarded For Reducing Food Waste
In the United States, there are several incentives for businesses that reduce food waste.
The EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge is a national initiative that provides resources and technical assistance to businesses to help them implement sustainable food management practices.
To date, the program has helped over 1,500 organizations recover and donate over 500 million pounds of food.
In addition, the EPA offers the Food Recovery Hierarchy program for businesses to reduce their environmental impact. This program is a model that businesses can use to prioritize actions to prevent and reduce food waste.
The first step of the Food Recovery Hierarchy is to “source reduction.” This means reducing the amount of food that is purchased in the first place.
Other steps include feeding hungry people, feeding animals, industrial uses, composting, and finally, landfilling.
The EPA also has a Food Recovery Challenge Academy which provides online courses and resources for businesses to learn more about reducing food waste.
Reducing food waste is not only good for the environment, but it can also save your business money. And with the EPA’s incentive programs, there’s no reason not to give it a try.
Join Thousands Of Restaurants Reducing Food Waste Today!
Now that you know how important reducing food waste is for the environment, it’s time to take action.
As of today, the record number of restaurants signed up for the Food Recovery Challenge is 7,006.
To date, these restaurants have recovered and donated over 500 million pounds of food. And they’re saving money while doing it!
If you’re ready to join the fight against food waste, sign up for the challenge today! You can also learn more about how to reduce food waste alongside industry experts in the Food Recovery Challenge Academy.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to take action and make a difference!
The Bottom Line
Every day, tons of edible food goes to waste in restaurants all over the world. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many simple ways to reduce food waste in your restaurant. And not only is it good for the environment, but it can also save you money.
When aiming to reduce food waste for your restaurant, remember the tips we mentioned above like composting food scraps, using biodegradable to-go containers, and encouraging employees to carpool or take public transportation. You can also join the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge which provides resources and technical assistance to businesses to help them implement sustainable food management practices.
Reducing food waste is a win-win for everyone involved. Don’t wait to take action! Reduce food waste today!