5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Deal with Restaurant Waste

Charlette Beasley

Charlette is a writer and content strategist in Florida. She writes payroll content for Fit Small Business and helps her own clients create industry-specific copy for their business. In addition, she loves “beaching” with her two kids.

When starting a new restaurant, finding ways to reduce restaurant waste & protect the environment is not always a restaurateur’s top priorities. However, “green” initiatives, or the development of sustainable solutions that prevent waste of the earth’s natural resources, are becoming more popular among businesses and appealing to consumers.

A perfect example of restaurant waste

A study conducted by Nielsen showed that fifty-five percent of global online consumers across 60 countries say they are willing to pay a premium for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.

This means environmentally friendly restaurants are subject to bring in more revenue than their counterparts. In addition, some “green” practices, such as recycling and reducing restaurant waste can lower costs, further increasing profitability potential.

“Going green” in your restaurant doesn’t have to require large amounts of time or money. You can slowly implement changes here and there that help reduce food waste.

Here’s what Kristin Von Till, Owner of Garnet Cafe, had to say about eco-friendly restaurant waste management.

Headshot of Kristin Von Till“We try to make small changes whenever possible. I think it all adds up over time. Kind of the point, isn’t it? Sometimes replacing a disposable product with something reusable allows us more budget for paper goods or compostable goods in place of plastic or styrofoam. As long as we’re mindful, we can always find something more to do.”

-Kristin Von Till, Owner, Garnet Cafe

Here are some eco-friendly ways you can implement to minimize restaurant waste:

1. Use biodegradable to-go containers & eco-friendly disposables

The type of containers you provide customers when they purchase meals on-the-go are important; eco-friendly to-go boxes are made from renewable resources, meaning they can be remade in nature, which is more sustainable, contain less toxic ingredients, like benzene and styrene found in plastic, and typically require less energy to make.

2. Partner with local farms to take food waste

Your local farms can be great resources as you make changes to reduce your restaurant’s waste; they’re usually open to converting food waste into hog feed. This is a good way to reuse waste that would otherwise serve no purpose and take up more space in the earth’s overflowing landfills. It could also decrease the gases released when processing and transporting alternative feed sources because there would be less reason to use them.

3. Recycle your food ingredients

After fulfilling food orders, there’s usually food product left over. This could be meat, vegetables, and so forth. Instead of discarding of unused food ingredients, find clever ways to use them in another dish. For example, you can make a special stock with leftover onion and carrot ends that customers can purchase for a discount.

4. Restructure portion sizes

Review the portion sizes you prepare for each menu item, and consider your customer’s eating habits. Have you noticed excessive leftovers at the end of each meal? For some restaurants, there are only one or two items that need to be rethought; for others, the entire menu offers portion sizes that are too generous.

Revamping the portion sizes shouldn’t take too much time. If it becomes a project, focus on changing one menu item at a time. Try not to make it drastic, and be sure to keep your eyes open for changes in customer eating patterns and positive or negative feedback.

5. Manage inventory expiration dates

Be careful about letting food products expire because that wastes both food and money. Use the traditional First-In-First-Out (FIFO) method of shelving products with expiration dates. This means you should position products with the earliest expiration dates in the front and the oldest in the back. The idea is that you’ll use the products in the front first — and those in the back last.

Every eco-friendly step counts

Remember that transforming your restaurant into an eco-friendly place of business doesn’t have to require a ton of money and time. You can slowly implement food waste solutions to help contribute to the environment by managing your food products better and purchasing from environmentally friendly stores.

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