16 Tips for Restaurant Food Waste Reduction

16 Tips for Restaurant Food Waste Reduction

With those restaurant food waste reduction tips you will create image of a modern ” green restaurant”, increase your profits and your employee morale!

Do you know how much money you throw away in your trash every day? You do not know ? Or, you know but you do not know how to prevent money lost through your food waste? You are in the right place to find the answers to these questions, change your foodservice practices and reduce restaurants waste to a minimum in the best possible way.
Every day restaurants around the world throw away tons of food while many people on the same planet are dying from hunger. Our reality is full of contradictory facts that we can ignore or not. For someone this will be good reason to get concerns and take care of their food waste, and the other will need more reason for that. Maybe good reason will be data issued by the study of University of Arizona that says that the percentage of food waste in fast-food restaurants is about 9.55 % and in restaurants with full service 11.3 % of the total amount of purchased food. Cost of food for the preparation of meals is the second largest expense in the restaurants industry, right after personnel costs. These data confirm that you can reduce these costs by almost 10 %. You got enough reasons to organize the restaurant waste management? Your goals are to reduce, reuse and recycle! Where to start?

restaurant food waste reduction trashpack

Restaurant Waste Management

Reducing waste make good business sense! To organize a successful waste management for your  establishment that will minimize it to a minimum and utilize existing waste in the best possible way you need to do the following actions:

  1. Create a team of responsible persons for this job
  2. Track and analyze the waste in a restaurant
  3. Review the documentation on the purchased goods and review the business decisions
  4. Conduct inventory frequently in order to  compare purchase and quantity of garbage
  5. Change menu in order to minimize quantity of leftovers
  6. Create a rules for this program
  7. Recycle everything what can be recycled!

restaurant food waste reduction kitchen

For this job you and your employees will be rewarded. Some of the great results are:

  • Reducing food costs and generate revenue
  • Making impact on the creation of a positive image
  • Improving foodservice practices
  • Improvin your equipment
  • Positive impact on employee morale
  • Positive impact on the environment

Create a Team Responsible for Managing the Garbage

You can hire a professional team to do a waste audit or you can do it with your team.
Who should be in the team? Depending on the restaurant capacity and scope of the operations performed in the restaurant team may consist of one or more persons. It would be best if these persons are involved in the preparation of meals, because they are familiar with the amount of specific ingredients that are used when preparing certain dishes. On the other hand, the staff in charge for cleaning and washing dishes are familiar with the type and quantity of garbagethat left after customers finish with eating.

 restaurant food waste reduction waste audit team restaurant food waste reduction waste audit

When selecting staff for this job choose persons with analytical spirit rather than those who are good with numbers.They will have better insight into the actual state of your garbage. If you include more employees in this job, choose leader who will will coordinate with other employees and be sure that they follow the program and all information has been recorded in a timely manner.
But above all, it is necessary to educate every member of the team about methods of monitoring, storage and recycling.

Restaurant Waste Audit – Monitoring and Analysis of Your Garbage

Restaurant waste can be roughly divided into two major groups – the one that left before consuming food and the one that left after your guests finish with dining.
Restaurant waste that left before your guest consumed food would be one that occurs during food preparation like raw foods such as potato peel, roots from leafy vegetables or bones, improperly prepared food, fluids and food accidentally spilled on the kitchen floor etc. Statistical data suggest that as many as 4-10% of raw food in the restaurants ends up being this kind of garbage. Losses are really great but there are solutions for the recycling of such waste by donating to food banks or some other national association. Food can be also reused – old bread can be tasty toast!

restaurant food waste reduction statistics

Garbage that left after dining represents everything that guests has not eaten along with the packaging in case that in your restaurant you are using disposable packaging, such as plastic plates and paper cups. Promotion of extra- large servings of food in the United States as a marketing trick to attract new guests had a big impact why this kind of food waste in restaurant become real problem.
Waste assessment  will give you information how much garbage your restaurant create and what is the quantity of waste that can be reduced through the practice of waste management, recycling and reuse.

Identifying Quantity of Different Types of Waste

You will Identify your garbage easily through the following actions :

  • Conversation with the employees
  • Disposal of garbage in specific containers
  • Recording of types and quantities of waste
  • A review of invoices and other documentation

To identify waste is usually sufficient to monitor and analyze it over a period of one month.
Good will of your employees is very important for the success. They need to understand the importance of the evaluation of your waste. For better performance and commitment explain to your employees why you are doing audit and benefits of this programs for themselves if you succeed and manage to reduce the quantity of it.

restaurant food waste reduction plate

Tip: Raise wages during this month to estimate the devoted work of your staff and get more relevant results of waste audit!

Records about types and quantities of waste can be done by entering data into the paper form or in computer. You can use simple paper sheet where your staff will record information about product, quantity, reason for waste, date and employee.

For better insight into the quantity and type of garbage check out the following documents:

  • records about collection and garbage disposal
  • records about income from waste recycling
  • inventory reports
  • invoices from suppliers of goods

Sorting and Weighing Restaurant Waste

The simplest way to sort  waste is by using different containers – buckets for certain types of waste. Waste is primarily necessary to sort to the one that can be recycled, such as food packaging, glass, paper, plastic bottles or organic waste from the kitchen, food scraps that your guests did not eat, all green food that can go to composting. These main categories can be furthered divided into subcategories such as meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, large plastic bottles, small plastic bottles, etc. A large number of categories and subcategories provides a clearer picture of the type and quantity of waste and brings more recycling options.

Tip: The rules about how to manage waste in restaurant should be an integral part of the employee handbook. All employees must be trained how to work with waste, no matter if they work in the kitchen, bar or serving room.

restaurant food waste reduction containers

The sorted waste can be easily measured by weighing. First, it is necessary to weigh the empty container. Then weight container with the waste. To get weight of waste subtract the weight of empty container from the value that you get. Record everything in provided sheet for  waste tracking. This process should be performed at the end of each working shift. In this way you will make the best comparison how much food you sell and how much waste you get, of course after you finished inventory for that shiftyou might use.

Be sure that your employees using adequate protective clothes and equipment when working with garbage. This includes protective masks, gloves, goggles and special uniforms for this purpose. All rules about used equipment ,waste weighing and disposal must be specified in the regulations for the restaurant operation in the employees handbook.

Restaurant Food Waste Reduction Ideas

How to reduce the restaurant waste? After you made waste audit and determine the  type and quantity you need to take concrete steps to reduce it. Below are some of the proven and effective methods that will certainly helf you to reach your goals:

  • Change your menu. After identify the restaurant menu items that usually have the most leftovers consider reducing the portion size of these menu items. In this way not only that you reduce the quantity of restaurant waste but also reducing the food cost of cooking and automatically increase profit.

restaurant food waste reduction big burger

  • Make a purchase wisely. If some of the ingredients that you use to prepare meals often goes to waste because you can not spend it before the end of its period of validity, consider the purchase of that ingredients in smaller packages.
  • Educate your staff with adequate practical training about the rules of movement in the kitchen or bar. Each of them must be familiar with the rules of movement in the bar or kitchen while preparing meals or drinks. For example, workers in the bar must learn to move circularly, to respect the sequence of actions in the bar in order to avoid unnecessary bumping that resulting with slower service and frequent spilling of drinks.
  • Invest in high-quality kitchen equipment that your staff using for the preparation and processing of foods. Use specialized knives for peeling of fruits and vegetables or knives for filleting and cutting meat or fish. These seemingly small differences in the quantity of food waste in the long period have a major impact on reducing waste and increasing your profit.
  • Change your plates.What would your nutritionist told you if you want to lose weight? Reduce portions of food in a way that you minimize the plate! Invest money in a new dinner service. Plates and glasses with smaller volume will seamlessly reduce portions.

Tip: Set smaller plates with food on larger plates. In this way, portions will look bigger. However, do not let your guests stay hungry!

  • Store fruits and vegetables properly. With proper storage of food you extending the time of use. Proper storage includes cleaning fruits and vegetables, storage in a suitable container and in the appropriate place with the obligatory labels with date of storage.
  • Regularly rotate the food in the fridge and warehouse. Set the foods that should be used first in front of the food that is stored newly. A very convenient way of storing food in the refrigerator is the rule “right to left”. New foods always store on the right side of the fridge while existing food you move further to the left. When you taking the food for preparation you are of course using the reverse order “from left to right.” In this way your food will be always fresh and you reducing food waste.

restaurant food waste reduction storage

  • Conduct inventory in the restaurant regularly. With the help of restaurant software that has the ability to work with multiple warehouses you can easily create the warehouse from which the goods will be spend, so you will able to condut inventory very fast. In this way you will have insight into the daily consumed goods, and accordingly identify the need for new purchases in a proper time, not to soon not too late. Also your restaurant software should give you the ability to do correction in your stocks and to record expenses in cases where the goods have to be disposed of as a waste due to improper storage, expiration date and so on. If you often doing inventory you are avoiding the creation of unnecessary goods that often results with spoilage of foods and big financial losses.

Restaurant Waste Recycling

Build a system that will ensure the recycling of all types of restaurant waste that is recyclable! Recycling of restaurant waste become part of daily work for 65% of restaurants in the USA. (Source)
Average restaurant in one year creates more than 50 tons of food waste. (Source) So is there possibility that your establishment not producing so mach thresh? This video show that this can be possible! It is amazing!

  1. Food waste is organic and can be completely recycled! It is one of the important renewable energy resources and the most commonly transport to landfills for composting.
  2. Plastic bottles, cans, cardboard boxes, wooden pallets and paper materials can be either reused or recycled.
  3. Make a contract with a local company for recycling. In this way, you earn money from your waste and get a free service of waste transport.
  4. And finally buy products made from recycled materials. In this way you support recycling programs and sustainability of life on planet Earth!

Create a image of modern “green restaurant” and make effects on the conscience of your guests as well as owners of other restaurants about proper attitude toward nature, human rase, health and life!
If you have some other ideas how to conduct food waste reduction I would be extremely happy if you share it with me and other caterers!