Restaurants in the United States generate a lot of food waste. To put this in perspective, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the quantity of food that was disposed of in landfills and energy recovery facilities in the United States in 2018 was more than any other single substance, accounting for 24% of the total.
Restaurants in the United States generate approximately 22 – 33 billion pounds in food waste each year. Before the meal is cooked by the restaurant personnel, there is a lot of waste. Approximately 4% to 10% of the items restaurants buy are thrown away before they even reach the customer’s dinner table.
Oversized quantities and complex menu selections prolong the disastrous cycle of restaurant wasted food. About one-seventeenth of restaurant meals go unfinished, according to industry statistics. More than half of the food consumed in a restaurant is thrown away.
What Causes Restaurants To Throw Away Food?
Restaurant food waste is exacerbated by the rise in average meal sizes over the past three decades. As a matter of fact, today’s restaurant serving sizes are 8 – 10 times greater than those advised by USDA and FDA.
In addition to the problem of food waste in restaurants, the conduct of kitchen employees is a factor. Chefs over-prepare meals, store materials incorrectly, and don’t make good use of food trimmings and waste. It’s not uncommon for chain restaurant managers to be rigid, which adds to the problem of food waste.
However, even if the Covid-19 epidemic is slowly eliminating buffet-style dining, the approach is still incredibly inefficient. All-you-can-eat buffet leftovers cannot be given or reused lawfully. Unnecessary food is wasted by maintaining a well-stocked buffet during the restaurant’s operating hours.
A lot more than just the elegant platters of food are thrown away when restaurants throw out meals. It is a waste of resources to utilise agricultural chemicals and water to feed plants, as well as the time and effort required to generate food.
Is It Possible To Compost Food Scraps?
Organic garbage is quite useful, despite the fact that restaurant food waste predominates. Compost may be made from food waste to enhance soil quality, reduce soil erosion, and nourish the soil. The environmental advantages of recycling restaurant food waste were considerable.
Organic waste is diverted from landfills when restaurants correctly segregate it for composting. When restaurants compost their trash, they also save money on garbage disposal expenses. Their efforts towards recycle food waste pay off in the long run by having a beneficial effect on the environment.
Composting is a viable option for a wide range of restaurant food waste. Food waste is at the top. Composting waste from fruits and vegetables, for example, is a simple process. Composting may also be used to recycle coffee and tea grounds and bags.
Fats, oils, and greases, for example, cannot be composted in commercial kitchens. They should be kept apart from biodegradable garbage in these circumstances. Compostable waste may be placed in designated bins. It is possible for grease to be collected and recycled by a grease collecting firm.
Restaurants and grease collection firms work together to recycle food waste. The residual cooking oils may be collected in indoor or outdoor containers provided by the company as part of its services. The restaurant’s used grease is removed from the premises on a regular basis.
These firms may also provide programmes to recover meat byproducts in addition to collecting grease. The firm provides containers for the collection of fat and bone, which are then hauled away by specialised vehicles. These drum containers are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate the needs of every restaurant.
To Reduce Food Waste, What Can Restaurants Do?
Food waste recycling is feasible, but restaurants should use measures to reduce food waste wherever they can. Conducing a food waste audits may help identify which goods are most commonly thrown away so that changes can be made accordingly.
Restaurants may reduce waste by altering their menus to better meet the needs of their customers. Food should be used in new ways by chefs. To minimise food deterioration, instruct kitchen staff to use the oldest goods first and avoid overbuying.
Employees should be taught how to properly dispose of food waste. Provide customers with color-coded recycling containers as well. Customers make a decision about where to throw away food in 2 to 3 seconds; utilise images to convey a message about sustainability.
To reduce waste, restaurants are urged to deliver food waste to the composting plant. A food-to-energy conversion device known as an anaerobic digester is one such example. Farmers in the area may utilise the food scraps to feed their livestock or compost on their crops.
Cooking oils, fats, and greases that have been discarded may be sold for profit. Cooking oil may be recycled at an oil recycling facility by partnering with such a grease collecting firm. Recycled cooking oil is heated, filtered, then separated throughout the refining process. Finally, the product is something that can be reused, like gasoline.