3 Tips to Reduce Restaurant Waste

According to the EPA, America produces around 250 million tons of solid waste per year. That figures out to about 4.5 pounds of trash created per person per day. Do you know how much waste your restaurant produces?

The odds are good that there are tons of waste (literally, over time) currently being produced by your restaurant that could potentially be recycled, composed or otherwise diverted from the landfills. Waste reduction is more than just the feel-good factor of attending to social and environmental responsibilities though—a good waste management plan also affords a number of cost saving opportunities. Here are three tips for reducing your restaurant’s waste production.

Measure & Manage the Cost of Restaurant Waste Disposal

The first step toward managing your waste-stream is to track the amount your business is currently spending on waste disposal. Set up a simple spreadsheet and log all of your waste expenditures. Doing so not only gives you an opportunity to identify trends over time, but also presents you with several waste management opportunities. For instance, you can determine if you are being accurately billed for the services you require, gain a clearer picture of your operation’s waste system and identify ways to adjust operational practices. This will help you take advantage of inventory and utilize recycling opportunities.

Give Your Restaurant a Thorough Waste-Stream Audit

Now that you know what your waste disposal is currently costing you, it’s time to get a handle on what you’re throwing away. Do a detailed analysis of the quantity and type of trash that is created and break it down into categories (paper, plastic, metal, glass, organic, etc.) Examine the overall life cycle of the items being discarded and get a pound for pound record of what’s going out the door. If you don’t want to do this yourself, hire a consultant or contract with your waste vendors. A good audit will uncover opportunities for waste reduction, diversion, recycling and re-using and can show you how to save money with a waste management plan.

Recycling and Food Waste Reduction in the Restaurant

The environmental and cost-saving benefits of recycling are well known, and according to the National Restaurant Association, around 60% of restaurateurs are already recycling at least a portion of their waste in some form or fashion. If you haven’t already examined the recycling options in your area, there are a number of both free and consultation services available to help you.

It’s a rare restaurateur who likes to see good food go to waste, so when it comes to food waste reduction, most restaurant owners are all about it as well. Donating food can be a great way to garner both tax incentives and goodwill in your community. Work with your local food rescue agency (a food bank, mission or hunger relief agency) to determine what kinds of food they can receive. As a general rule of thumb, cooked foods can be donated, as long as they have not been served and have been cooled down and stored according to food safety guidelines. According to CNN news, just 5% of America’s leftovers could feed 4 million people for a day. Can you imagine the impact your restaurant’s leftovers could have on your local community?

Getting a clear picture of your restaurant’s waste-stream from entry to exit is smart, both financially and socially. Take the time to see where your restaurant business could stand to lose a few pounds!

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One Response to “3 Tips to Reduce Restaurant Waste”

  1. lyndaybaker Says:

    Reblogged this on lyndaybaker.

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