Tackling the Food Waste Challenge: New Toolkit Offers Best Practices for Reducing Food Waste to Landfills

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Photo by Nick Saltmarsh

One of the major challenges in restaurants is food waste. A study by BSR indicated that approximately 80 billion pounds of food is discarded in US landfills each year. They also estimated that restaurants and institutional facilities accounted for around 48% of that number. For restaurant owners, food waste means lost profit. Environmentally, wasted food in landfills is hazardous, as that food releases methane gas as it decomposes. Not to mention,  a lot of this wasted food was safe enough that it could have been donated to food pantries to feed those in need. This is where the Food Waste Reduction Alliance comes in.

Food Waste Challenge

Photo by: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

Photo by: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

The Food Waste Reduction Alliance is a joint collaboration between the Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Restaurant Association. Recently, they released a Best Practices Toolkit with the goal of increasing donations to food banks and decreasing the amount of food sent to landfills. This toolkit offers solutions and ideas for restaurants and institutions to begin reducing their food waste.

One of the solutions is to conduct a waste characterization assessment. This lets you establish what kind of material is being discarded, and allows you to see which areas can be improved by reducing, donating or recycling waste.

The toolkit also includes use by and sell by date practices. A lot of times, restaurants err on the side of caution and discard food based on use by dates, when a lot of times, that food could have been safe to donate to food banks. The FWRA suggests establishing a relationship with a trusted local food bank, and setting up date extension guidelines for donating food that may not be desirable for sale at full price, but can still be acceptable for donation under certain conditions of use.

Another goal of the Food Waste Challenge is to find creative uses to recycle food waste. A few solutions suggested is donating unusable food to local farmers for animal feed, recycling or donating used cooking oil for biofuel production, and donating organic wastes with high sugar content to help produce ethanol.

How to Get Started

Click here to view the toolkit in its entirety. It contains several helpful links and articles to help you get on the right track to reducing waste and saving money in the process.

In the meantime, shop online at CentralRestaurant.com and see our assortment of food storage pans and containers. Great prices and trusted brands to keep your food fresh longer.

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