Every day, more than 23 billion pounds of food is thrown away across the world. What this means is that roughly half a pound of food is wasted per meal. There are many contributors to this problem, including individual consumers, the hospitality industry, and the supply chain. And while the cost of food waste for the environment and many societies is grave, the cost for restaurants and businesses in the food industry doesn’t come cheap, either.
Let’s discuss exactly what happens to food waste and how restaurants can help minimize this problem.
What Happens to Food Waste From Restaurants?
Unfortunately, approximately 85% of the food that isn’t used in a typical restaurant is thrown away without being recycled or donated. Only 5% of food is responsibly composted, meaning that the vast majority is sent to landfills. Landfills create many problems for the environment—including the release of toxins and greenhouse gasses.
Food waste breaks down very slowly in landfills and forms methane—a greenhouse gas that’s nearly 100 times more powerful (and dangerous) than carbon dioxide. These emissions are harmful to the environment and will continue to impact generations to come.
Irresponsible food waste is also a leading cause of freshwater shortage, as food waste is responsible for more than ¼ of all freshwater consumption in the United States alone.
Clearly, for the sake of our environment and the future, it’s worth investing time and energy to minimize the disastrous effects of food waste.
How Can Restaurants Cut Down on Food Waste?
One of the main issues for restaurants is determining how much stock to buy. Supply must match demand, and it can be tricky to figure out exactly how much food you need to order.
The first thing that restaurants can do, then, is conduct a “waste audit.” Take the time to track exactly how much food is wasted in a given time period so that you can more closely match demand to supply. This is also a good time to determine your food cost, which is how much of your budget is being spent on food.
A common problem for restaurants and suppliers is a mismatch between demand and supply. Trying to manage multiple supplier relationships is tricky, and inventory mistakes are often made in the process, creating a lot of waste. Choco can help with this.
You can also practice better organization by maximizing the shelf life of your perishables and making sure they’re used promptly. One way to ensure this is to use the popular “FIFO” (first in, first out) method by adding stickers to all items. This will help your staff know with certainty which products they should be using, and when.
Another innovative approach to managing your food waste is to constantly look for ways to repurpose ingredients. Use the last of an unfinished bottle of cooking wine in another sauce, take vegetable by-products to create stock, or get even more creative with your cooking. Not only can this improve your reputation for sustainability, it can keep guests and media alike coming back for your innovative cuisine.
We’ve only scratched the surface here with potential solutions to minimize food waste. There are a number of things to manage while operating a restaurant, but choosing to prioritize a more responsible food waste system can help you save both food and money.