Waste is something that every company faces and yet a special eye is put on restaurants when it comes to disposal and control of the waste. Restaurant waste is expensive and it also takes time and energy to efficiently deal with it properly. This blog will help you as a restaurant owner or manager to better understand different ways to deal with the waste in your company.
What is Restaurant Waste?
Restaurant waste has two different categories. It is the waste that is thrown out by the customers or the waste that is thrown out before the final product makes it to the customers. Each of these types of waste, pre-consumer food waste or post consumer food waste, causes their own set of problems for the company as a whole.
Pre-consumer Food Waste: These problems mainly occur when food expires, spoils, when food is not cooked properly, or for some reason the food can no longer be sold for any reason. In addition to this there are also scraps and packaging that also needs to be disposed of this will be touched later on in the blog.
Post-consumer Food Waste: This is anything and everything that the consumer decided they do not want. This can be food left on the plate and even their paper products and plastics.
Food Waste Impacting the Environment
When thinking about all the waste in the United States one might be shocked to hear it but most waste is food waste. 40-50% of the waste comes from consumers while 50-60% comes from the companies making these foods. Think about all of that food that is ending up in landfills. When this happens the decomposition of the foods creates methane. This in return creates the greenhouse gas effects. Furthermore hurts the environment we call home. Not only that but this also takes land for all of the waste to be put somewhere, like landfills. This loss of land is loss of habitats for animals and plants that we as humans are now trying so diligently to protect. Other factors that are affected is oil. Think how much oil needs to be used in order to harvest your food. Each plow, tractor and vehicle that is used need fuel in order to get your food to your table.
How to Reduce the Waste
So back to the main question: how does one reduce their restaurant waste? This is not about completely eliminating the waste that you have in your restaurant. It is about targeting key areas that then can reduce and help cost saving measures in the restaurant.
- Donating the leftovers: start by finding a local soup kitchen or even a food bank that will take leftovers from your restaurant. There are even apps and websites for this so it is not too hard to find.
- Talk with your employees: start off by asking your staff what they see could be improved and once there is a plan make everyone aware of it. It is easy to get something in motion and then have it completely dissipate due to the lack of commitment. Get ahead of this and make sure everyone is kept accountable.
- Put in place reusables: Think about the straws that you use, could you use usable ones? Are there areas that you are currently using plastic items that you could change. What about your take out boxes? Make them either reusable ones or get biodegradable to go boxes. Even try encouraging your customers to bring their own reusable to go boxes. Make it an incentive to do so!
- Down size your menu: Much of the food waste comes from a large menu. When having a large menu it is more unpredictable of what items are going to sell better and which are not. Making your menu specialized and refined will not onlys reduce waste but can also save your restaurant money in the long run.
- Recycling: many of the items that get thrown away can be recycled. Cans plastics and more can be recycled when it comes down to it and it does not take much to do so. Put out recycling containers for your guests. You will be surprised at how many people choose to recycle.
- Composting: this is a natural process when organisms break down your natural food scraps. This is something that people think is daunting but it is actually so easy. Start small, buy a composting container or make your own. Then all you need is some composting worms and you are off to the races. You can set this up right outside your restaurant and as long as you do not put meats or plastics in the compost pile it will not smell at all. Things you can put in your compost: Fruits, eggs, coffee filters, cardboard, veggies, napkins, towels, starches and much more. Just watch out and do not put anything that milk based or meat based in there. This will cause an odor and no one wants that around a restaurant.
The importance of all of this is consistency. In order to make any change at your company you need to make sure you are consistent and it follows through to your employees. Start by taking small steps and you will be surprised where you are in several years. Have fun and enjoy the process of saving the earth and your home!