Human life is full of contradictions. While on one end, masses are still trapped by the evils of poverty and hunger, restaurants around the country and the world waste tons of food every day. It is high time now for restaurants to start including smart waste management on their priority list. According to a study, the percentage of food waste in fast-food restaurants is about 9.55 % and in restaurants with full service 11.3 % of the total amount of purchased food.
The cost of food for the preparation of meals is the second largest expense in the restaurant industry, right after personnel costs.
Through this article, we will try to analyze and put forward techniques and tips for restaurant waste management.
1) Create a Responsible Team
The first step in the process of restaurant waste management is creating a responsible team. It is better to hire those people for this task who are already involved with cleaning and washing dishes because they have a basic idea of the quantity and the type of garbage.
It is absolutely crucial to educate and train every member of the team about the methods of reusing and recycling. If you have a larger restaurant, set up a larger team including a leader whose work will be to ensure that all the members follow the waste reduction management program.
A smaller team will work efficiently if the restaurant works on a smaller scale.
2) Conduct a Waste Audit
First of all, there is a need to find out the amount of waste and the kind of waste generated by the restaurant. Your primary goal while conducting audit should be to find out and identify the sources of these waste and then only you will be in a position to plan out ways to reduce it.
Before conducting the audit, it is also important to explain to your team why you are conducting the audit and benefits of this program for the restaurant.
3) Break up your waste after identifying it
After identifying the restaurant waste, it is better to break it up into categories namely-
a) Pre-Consumer Waste– The waste that does not leave the kitchen such as perishable ingredients which have gone bad because they have passed the expiration date. The solution for this waste would be to improve the storage system so that the ingredients are not wasted. For this, you will have to keep a regular check on the evaluation of inventory which will be discussed in detail in the next point. Apart from inventory evaluation and proper storage, emphasis must also be given to training the team of better food preparation techniques.
b) Post-consumer waste- The second kind of waste in a restaurant is the post-consumer waste. This type of wastage happens when the food has been served and some or all part of it is left over by the customers. One of the major reasons of post-consumer waste is over-proportioning. Serving large quantities of food which cannot be consumed by the guests leads to wastage and also raises the Food Costs. Thus, arises the need of Portion Control. Another cause of post-consumer waste is poor quality of food and/or taste. You should ask for Customer Feedback in such cases, to identify the reason for the leftover food.
4) Evaluating Inventory
It is necessary to evaluate the already existing stock before going for a fresh purchase. Maximum wastage happens when the stock is ordered in large quantities and is not consumed before its expiration. It is advisable to set re-order levels for each item in the inventory that gives you reminders to re-order when the item gets consumed till a certain level. This way, you don’t need to over-purchase for the fear of running out of Stock.
Also, it is important to conduct audits while receiving the Stock Items from the vendor. Check for spoiled food items, and always keep a track of the manufacturing date and the expiration date of each. It is a good idea to use an Inventory Management System that keeps a complete track of the stock details.
5) Donating and Recycling
In the case of over-preparation of food, instead of throwing it out, you can donate it to the poor. Connect with the local NGOs in your area that can help you donate the leftover food instead of letting it go to waste. Recycling and reusing food is difficult while still maintaining its quality and hygiene. However, in certain cases, such as Bakeries and Sweet Shops, you can sell yesterday’s item at half the price instead of letting it get wasted. However, do remember to inform your customers that you are selling a day old items as well!
Other items of the restaurant such as cutlery and equipment etc that can be recycled should be considered for reuse. Also, use recyclable packaging wherever possible.