Food waste remains a critical problem to be solved in the restaurant industry – especially as more people learn about the harmful effects of landfills & food waste on the environment.
Consumers expect their restaurants to take more responsibility for their role in reducing food waste, and those that fail to do so will lose customers in the process.
In this post, we’ll discuss the “zero waste” food concept, as well as 3 tips for restaurants to reduce waste.
What is the Zero Waste Concept?
The “zero waste” concept is a set of principles focused on food waste prevention. It encourages the redesign of resources so that all products are safely reused. The goal is for less trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean. This ultimately reduces the harmful effects of food waste on an already struggling environment.
Consider a few of these disturbing statistics:
Only 9% of all the plastic waste on Earth has been recycled
1.4 billion tons of food is wasted each year
More than 80% of American discard perfectly good food because they misunderstand expiration labels
Food takes up more space in US landfills than anything else
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 the generations to come.
The core principles of the “zero waste” concept to reduce these negative consequences include:
Refuse what you don’t need
Reduce what you do use
Reuse whatever you can
Recycle what you can’t refuse or reduce
Rot what’s leftover
In the next section, we’ll discuss how restaurants can implement these policies to reduce their own food waste.
3 Tips to Reduce Waste
Tip #1: FIFO
One of the most effective ways for restaurants to reduce waste is to practice the popular “FIFO” approach or first in, first out. This involves adding labels to all items with their expiration dates. This will help employees know which products to use and when, making sure that the oldest inventory items are sold first. This reduces the amount of food that has to be wasted because it’s too old and at the back of the queue.
Tip #2: Conduct a Waste Audit
Each week, you should consider calculating exactly how much waste is recorded. By practicing this over a span of a few weeks, you’ll be able to more closely match supply with demand and shave down the amount of food that is wasted.
Tip #3: Repurpose Ingredients
This one requires more innovation, but by making the effort to repurpose certain ingredients for another dish, you’ll cut down on waste. At the same time, you might also discover a savory new dish that delights your customers. Win-win!
Food waste is a serious issue with profound implications. The restaurant industry plays a critical role in saving our environment by reducing the amount of waste it produces.
By practicing the “zero waste” principles, you’ll not only delight customers with your responsible practices, but you’ll also cut down on food costs in the process.