Waste not, want not! Getting tired of seeing a ton of waste (and money) fly out the window? Check out this great post we found on the website of our awesome partners over at LEAF! Here ten great ways to cut down on food waste in your restaurant:

In a commercial kitchen, waste is something that is left over and no longer of use. This includes leftover food, packaging materials, broken dishes and waste from food preparation. Restaurants and foodservices produce a large amount of  waste which is often generated from incorrect storage and handling of supplies, preparing too much food and poor recycling practices. How to combat waste in your kitchen?

The first step would be to conduct a waste assessment. Examine what goes into the trash and which products are being purchased. This will give an idea of the types of waste being produced by your restaurant. Once you know the types of waste you produce, you can plan a recycling program. By implementing an efficient recycling program, you can decrease your output of garbage and help the environment by handling waste properly.

1.Purchase products with recycled content

By using recyclable products and products that have been recycled you can close the recycling loop. Once a material or finished product has served its purpose and has been diverted or recovered from waste destined for the trash, it is considered post – consumer. Try to find products that contain a high percentage of “post-consumer” waste. This means that the product is made from paper collected from residential and business recycling programs, not just from trimmings and paper scraps from within paper mills. Items made from post-consumer recycled materials are the friendliest to the environment.

2.Compost food waste

Kitchen scraps consist of food waste ranging from meat and bread to dairy products, fruits and vegetables. By separating them for composting, kitchen scraps can be turned into a nutrient rich soil additive and kept out of a landfill. Composted kitchen scraps contain nutrients and minerals essential for healthy plant development. They also encourage healthy soil ecosystems through the addition of micro-organisms. These micro-organisms can help reduce garden pests and encourage beneficial insects, reducing or eliminating pesticide use. Connect with a private business or commercial composter to collect waste for composting or learn how to compost on site.

3.Monitor food waste

Take note of what servers and bus staff return to the kitchen. Reduce portion size or remove foods that customers do not typically finish.  Evaluate and adjust the size of your meal portions if they are consistently being returned unfinished. Offer half-portions for your guests and children’s portions for younger customers.

4.Use reusable napkins and cleaning cloths

From an environmental and financial standpoint, it makes more sense to use products that can be washed and re-used as opposed to disposable towels or napkins that would end up in a landfill.

5.Replace plastic and Styrofoam with “green” disposables

Compostable and biodegradable takeout items are now available.  Fabricated mainly from corn, sugarcane, potatoes and other renewable vegetable matter, these products can and should be commercially composted in order to be environmentally beneficial.

6.Collect used oil and grease

A lot of the fats, oils and grease used in restaurants end up down the sink drain during food preparation and after meal clean up. They enter the sewer pipes and stick to the sides and roof of the pipes. Over time the fats, oils and grease can build up to a point in which the pipe is entirely blocked off, resulting in sewage backups and overflows. By utilizing a good quality grease trap and a waste cooking oil service to collect used oil and grease, you will help protect our sewer systems and our waterways from contaminants. Used cooking oil is reclaimed, renewed, and then returned to the marketplace and used in lubricants, animal feed, and clean-burning biofuel.

7.Re-use food packaging items

Food crates and pallets can be reused. Reducing excess packaging is an important way to reduce waste. Let your supplier know that you are serious about cutting down on unnecessary waste, and ask to keep informed of new and existing products that meet requirements but have minimal packaging. The more restaurants ask for less wasteful alternatives, the faster manufacturers will respond with better packaging design.

8.Salvage water for cleaning

Water from steam tables and other steaming equipment is stored in a reservoir to be dumped out later. Instead of dumping this clean water down the drain, use it for cleaning the floors at the end of the day or anytime the steam table water is changed.

9.Reduce breakage or loss of china, glass or silver

Create staff incentives to reduce breakage or loss of supplies. Employees with a good record for the month could be given cash bonuses, gift certificates or a night off, depending on your budget. Place rubber mats around bus and dishwashing stations to reduce glass and china breakage – as well as injury resulting from slips.

10.Beverages, sauces, dressing

Provide sugar bowls, bottles of sauce, salt and pepper cellars rather than sachets. Serve milk, juice and soft drinks from dispensers rather than cartons. When possible, use refillable condiment bottles and refill them from condiments purchased in bulk. This can apply to ketchup, coffee cream, sugar and other items. Serve carbonated beverages from a beverage gun or dispenser rather than from a bottle or can. If you must use bottles or cans, recycle them along with your liquor bottles.

image credit: axmai