How to start reducing food waste?

By October 20, 2022 No Comments
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For food businesses, the social and environmental motivations behind reducing food waste are clear. But what exactly can be done at an operational level?


Ingredient: Protect Your Food Business


How to start reducing food waste?


For food businesses, the social and environmental motivations behind reducing food waste are clear. But what exactly can be done at an operational level? Below are seven ways in which food service operators can start managing and reducing their food waste today.

1. Perform a waste audit. The first step in identifying the biggest food waste sources is to measure your current output. The ‘three bin’ approach is an easy way to start doing this. Install three labeled bins to collect food waste from separate areas: kitchen prep, spoiled food and customer plates. Monitor how much waste is collected from each location over a set period of time. Once you’ve identified where your biggest problems lie, you can introduce targeted measures to tackle them.

2. Get staff involved. Emphasise the importance of reducing food waste across your company and ensure that employees understand how waste should be segregated. Empower your staff to reduce waste wherever possible and provide incentives for doing so.

3. Keep a close eye on portion control. Be more conscious of offering oversized food portions. Monitor which dishes come back with food on the plate and reduce portion sizes accordingly. There is absolutely no point in serving huge amounts of food if they are destined for the bin. This exercise serves a dual purpose in the age of calorie labeling. If you are including the calories per dish in your menu, it makes sense to reduce calories in dishes that often go unfinished.

4. Offer a take-home option. If customers have any food left, give them the option of taking leftovers away with them.

5. Monitor and manage supply orders. It can be tempting to buy in bulk, but doing so can often leave you with surplus food that winds up in waste disposal. Ensure that you only purchase ingredients at volumes that you know your kitchen will use.

6. Look for alternatives to landfill.  Be sure to put any food waste you have to good use. Compostable food bins can include things like fruit and vegetable peelings, baked goods, grains, egg shells, coffee grounds and tea bags. Local farms can use this compost as fertiliser when growing vegetables and crops.

7. Donate. Ensure that any food you can’t use goes to a good home. One option is to use a food rescue service OzHarvest or a similar enterprise. You could also work with a local food bank to donate any leftover meals and/or ingredients.

Of course, the food service sector plays a huge part in the current food waste problem. This was underscored in the United Nations Environment Programme’s 2021 Food Waste Index, which found that an estimated 26% of food wastage comes from the food service sector. This once again highlights the need for food businesses to make a conscious effort to reduce food waste.

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