- Complete a restaurant audit and launch a simple reuse program.
- Rethink packaging waste - switch to compostable or biodegradable packaging, use glass and stainless steel containers, and reduce the number of single-use items like plastic utensils.
- Monitor food inventory - keep track of what's being purchased and consumed so you don't end up with too much food that goes to waste.
- Utilize restaurant technology - use digital menus for customers to order from, install energy-efficient equipment, and set up a cloud-based ordering system for staff.
- Encourage your staff - make sure your team practices good waste management habits by sorting trash properly, turning off lights and appliances when not in use, etc.
- Participate in recycling programs - work with local partners to recycle or donate unused ingredients, supplies, or equipment so they don't end up in a landfill.
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Any seasoned restaurant owner knows that waste accumulates incredibly fast if left unchecked. In fact, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the average restaurant generates over 200 pounds of waste per day. This adds up to more than 60 tons of food waste every year.
Not only does waste increase costs for restaurants and put a strain on our environment, but it also contributes to climate change due to the methane emissions created by rotting food in landfills. From food to equipment to supplies, owners and managers must understand how to reduce restaurant waste.
In today’s article, we will discuss practical strategies for reducing waste in your restaurant such as conducting a waste audit, regulating stock levels, optimizing staff procedures, and much more. By the end, you will be well on your way to eliminating restaurant waste and saving a significant amount of time, energy, and money to boot! Learn how to create a greener, smarter (and more sought-after) restaurant today by following these tried-and-tested steps.
Complete a restaurant audit and launch a simple reuse program.
There are many ways to repurpose ingredients and leftover items in the kitchen. For instance, one dish can be broken down into its primary components to create multiple new dishes from the same starting point. Not only are you reducing unnecessary waste, but by reusing and repurposing equipment and supplies, you may create your restaurant’s hottest newest dish!
To start on your reuse journey, you need to conduct a waste audit where you assess how you are currently storing your restaurant’s ingredients and inventory. Begin by taking stock of all equipment, supplies, and ingredients. This includes everything from appliances to food storage containers to utensils and dishes. Make sure to note any broken or damaged items that may need replacing. Make sure to track your inventory levels as well – how much food and supplies are purchased and stored weekly at your restaurant? How often does it need replacing?
Next, check how you are disposing of trash. Yep, you’re going to have to check out the dumpster. But hey, don’t sweat it; no dumpster diving is required here. And trust us, the potential savings are well worth it. By doing this, you will know if you’re paying full price to haul half-empty bins or are paying for additional pickups for overflowing containers. It’s important you understand the contract and fees of your local waste management company. According to the Environmental Research & Education Foundation, municipal solid waste fees in the U.S. continue to increase nationwide. Some regions even see hikes of up to 16% a year and typically, the more waste you send to landfills, the more you pay.
Once the restaurant audit has been completed, it is crucial to ensure proper storage and handling of all ingredients are considered. This means that food should be stored at the correct temperature, humidity, and light levels to ensure that it stays fresh and safe for customers to consume. Certain foods should not be overcrowded in storage. Additionally, restaurant staff must be educated on appropriate techniques when handling and storing food items to avoid unnecessary waste. By following these steps, you can significantly reduce your restaurant’s waste and positively impact the environment and your business’s bottom line.
Rethink packaging waste – switch to compostable or biodegradable packaging, use glass and stainless steel containers, and reduce the number of single-use items like plastic utensils.
Regarding packaging and kitchen items, there are many alternatives to plastic and other single-use materials. Compostable and biodegradable packaging options are becoming increasingly available. They are a great way to reduce waste. Glass and stainless steel containers are durable and can be used repeatedly. Plus, they won’t leach harmful chemicals into your food or the environment. And let’s not forget about single-use items like plastic utensils. By swapping them out for reusable options, we can help prevent unnecessary waste from ending up in landfills and oceans.
Sustainable change is already happening all around us and can be a great draw to potential high-paying customers who seek green businesses. Here are some exciting examples of waste transformation from across the country:
- This very year, governors in Maine and Maryland signed the first-ever bans on Styrofoam take-out containers (which leeches harmful chemicals when it breaks down). This applies directly to restaurants and grocery stores.
- California, New York, and Hawaii have bans on single-use plastic bags.
- In Connecticut, mandatory recycling is a state law and applies to residents, businesses, non-profits, and all public and private institutions. Mandated items for recycling include bottles, cans, plastic containers, paper, newspaper, cardboard, and more. Even grass clippings are banned from disposal. If a trash collection is inspected at the waste facility and discovered to contain significant amounts of recyclable items, it may be denied entry. Then, the expense for this rejection will be charged back to either the customer or business from their hauler.
And Americans aren’t the only ones. There are plenty of international examples from countries like France that made it obligatory for all large producers of organic waste (beyond 10 tons per year) to sort and recycle or compost organic waste or donate unsold food products that are still good for consumption. How incredible is that?!
Monitor food inventory – keep track of what’s being purchased and consumed so you don’t end up with too much food that goes to waste.
Having a regular process to track your restaurant’s food inventory is one of the best ways to ensure you’re minimizing food waste and saving money. By monitoring what you’re buying and consuming, you can adjust your business’s shopping habits. You will more easily see what gets used and what goes to waste.
Utilize restaurant technology – use digital menus for customers to order from, install energy-efficient equipment, and set up a cloud-based ordering system for staff.
Technology has revolutionized how we do things, allowing us to do them faster and more efficiently. When it comes to restaurants, technology can be utilized to entertain customers and protect the environment. There are plenty of smart appliances now available to businesses, such as smart thermostats, energy-efficient LED lighting, and even smart dishwashers, that make a big difference. (For more information on how to reduce your restaurant’s energy use – see our article).
Digital menus rose in popularity during the COVID pandemic but remain a common way for customers to order from their phones, giving them an interactive and engaging experience. Another great tech tool for restaurants is a point of service (POS) system that allows servers to take guest orders remotely, track inventory automatically, and keep your business transactions organized. Setting up a cloud-based ordering system for staff to streamline operations, reduce errors, and improve productivity.
By taking advantage of these digital solutions, you’ll impress your customers and enhance your business’s overall efficiency. So why not take the leap and embrace new restaurant technology today?
Encourage your staff – make sure your team practices good waste management habits by sorting trash properly, turning off lights and appliances when not in use, etc.
Encouraging your staff to practice good waste management habits is not only beneficial for the planet, but it can also save your business money. Make sure they participate in the regular restaurant waste audits – after all; you shouldn’t be doing this all yourself.
Teach your staff how to properly store, handle, and dispose of your food items. By doing this consistently, your team will be helping to reduce the amount of waste your business produces and lower energy bills. But it’s not just about the money. Practicing good waste management is part of being a responsible member of the community, and it helps to create a positive culture within your workplace.
Participate in recycling programs – work with local partners to recycle or donate unused ingredients, supplies, or equipment so they don’t end up in a landfill.
By working with local organizations to recycle or donate unused ingredients, supplies, or equipment, you can reduce your impact on the environment and positively impact your community. Government programs will also give your business tax credits for donating certain items. Recycling programs help divert waste away from landfills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and conserve natural resources. Additionally, partnering with local organizations can create valuable connections and foster goodwill among customers and stakeholders.
When your restaurant prioritizes sustainability, the added benefits are numerous. You can count on reduced operating expenses, an improved business reputation, increased customer loyalty, a more engaged team, and a greater ability to retain top-level staff.
From owners to servers to the guests themselves, everyone has a part to play when it comes to reducing waste in the restaurant industry. Encourage your staff to adopt these strategies and invest in efficient technology and recycling programs so that you can reduce the carbon footprint of your kitchen. Ultimately, developing better practices for reducing waste is a win-win situation that leads to long-term positive change. All it takes is some organization, education, and action in order to cut out waste so you can keep your restaurant running efficiently.
Get started today, and be sure to come back and visit us real soon here on ElectricityRates.com. We are your trusted source for everything Americans need to know to save money on energy!