By Industry Category

RecyclingWorks has compiled industry data from published reports and studies, which can be used as guidance for facilities with little to no current food waste diversion program in place.  If your business is currently tracking or diverting food waste, you may dispose of less food waste than indicated by the industry averages.  We will continue to refine and add metrics as updated or improved data becomes available.  View a list of the sources used in developing our food waste estimation guide here.

Individual results may vary depending on preparation methods and materials, reuse of leftovers, and type of food service.  For example, a tray-less dining policy reduces post consumer food waste in cafeterias compared with traditional tray service.  Similarly, full-service, sit-down restaurants are more likely to generate higher volumes of food waste compared to fast-food or take-out restaurants.  In addition, the use of a garbage disposal, or similar technology, in a kitchen reduces the overall amount of food waste going into the trash.

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Click on the industry category listed below that best fits your business, and start estimating your food waste today!

Colleges and Universities

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for colleges and universities.

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If you have 734 students living on campus, then:

141.75 lbs/student/year * 734 residential students = 104,045 lbs/year

104,045 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 2,001 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you have 2,751 students living off campus, then:

37.8 lbs/student/year * 2,751 non-residential students = 103,988 lbs/year

103,988 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

Note: The equations based on number of students (above) assume a steady level of food consumption over 52 weeks.  However this may not always be the case, so it is recommended that you adjust the equations above to best fit your operations.

1 This metric assumes 405 meals per residential student per year.

2 This metric assumes 108 meals per non-residential student per year.

 

Correctional Facilities

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for correctional facilities.

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If you house 286 inmates, then:

1 lbs/inmate/day * 286 inmates = 286 lbs/day

286 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 2,002 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you fill 2 trash dumpsters at 4 cubic yards twice per week, then:

450 lbs * (2 trash dumpsters * 4 yd3 * 2 pickups/week) = 7,200 lbs of total disposed waste/week

7,200 lbs * 30% of total waste = 2,160 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

Note: The equation based on weight of disposed waste (above) assumes a weight of 450 lbs/yd3 for mixed commercial waste materials.  It was derived using the median value of EPA’s standard conversion factor:  1yd3 of commercial-industrial waste = 300 to 600 lbs.  You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

Hospitals

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for hospitals.

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If you serve 3,334 meals in one week, then:

0.6 lbs/meal * 3,334 meals served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

If you serve 6,667 lbs of food in one week, then:

30% of food served * 6,667 lbs served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

If you have 84 beds, then:

3.42 lbs/bed/day * 84 beds = 287 lbs/day

287 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 2,009 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

1 This metric uses beds as a proxy to account for all food waste generated across the hospital by patients, staff, and visitors. 

 

Lodging and Hotels

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for lodging and hotels.

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If you have 286 guests per day, then:

1 lbs/guest/day * 286 guests = 286 lbs/day

286 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 2,002 lbs/week = 1 ton of organic waste per week

 

If you have 301 guest rooms, then:

345.64 lbs/room/year * 301 rooms = 104,037 lbs/year

104,037 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 2,001 lbs/week = 1 ton of organic waste per week

 

If you fill 2 trash dumpsters at 4 cubic yards twice per week, then:

450 lbs * (2 trash dumpsters * 4 yd3 * 2 pickups/week) = 7,200 lbs of total disposed waste/week

7,200 lbs * 36% of total waste = 2,592 lbs/week = 1.3 tons of food waste in one week

 

Note: The equation based on weight of disposed waste (above) assumes a weight of 450 lbs/yd3 for mixed commercial waste materials.  It was derived using the median value of EPA’s standard conversion factor:  1yd3 of commercial-industrial waste = 300 to 600 lbs.  You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

 

Note: Hotels that do not provide food service will typically generate less food waste than indicated in the above metrics. Therefore, you may choose to change these measures to best represent your operations.

 

Tip: The Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA) has developed a Green Lodging Calculator that estimates environmental benefits and financial savings from various sustainable practices tailored to the hospitality industry.

Green Lodging Calculator

Nursing Homes

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for nursing homes.

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If you serve 3,334 meals in one week, then:

0.6 lbs/meal * 3,334 meals served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

If you serve 10,000 lbs of food in one week, then:

20% of food served * 10,000 lbs served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

If you have 159 beds, then:

1.8 lbs/bed/day * 159 beds = 286 lbs/day

286 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 2,002 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

1 This metric uses beds as a proxy to account for all food waste generated across the nursing home by residents, staff, and visitors.

 

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for elementary and secondary schools.

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If you have 4,000 students enrolled, then:

0.5 lbs/student/week * 4,000 students enrolled = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

If you fill 1 trash dumpster at 4 cubic yards 3 times per week, then:

450 lbs * (1 trash dumpster *4 yd3 * 3 pickups/week) = 5,400 lbs of total disposed waste/week

5,400 lbs * 45% of total waste = 2,430 lbs/week = 1.2 tons of food waste in one week

 

Note:

(1)  A school’s food waste disposal could be higher if it serves more than 1 meal per student per day, has a culinary education program, or has a centralized kitchen serving other locations.  It is recommended that you adjust the equations above to best fit your operations.

(2) These average measurements are based off of waste audit findings from 2007 to 2013 conducted at 7 public elementary, middle, and high schools in MA.

(3) The equation based on weight of disposed waste (above) assumes a weight of 450 lbs/yd3 for mixed commercial waste materials.  It was derived using the median value of EPA’s standard conversion factor:  1yd3 of commercial-industrial waste = 300 to 600 lbs.  You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

 

Restaurants

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for restaurants.

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If you serve 4,000 meals in one week, then:

0.5 lbs/meal * 4,000 meals served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

If you have 70 full-time employees, then:

1,500 lbs/employee/year * 70 full-time employees = 105,000 lbs food waste generated/year

105,000 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 2,019 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you are a full-service restaurant 1 and fill 1 trash dumpster at 4 cubic yards 2 times per week, then:

450 lbs * (1 trash dumpster * 4 yd3 * 2 pickups/week) = 3,600 lbs of total disposed waste/week

3,600 lbs * 66% of total waste = 2,376 lbs/week = 1.2 tons of food waste in one week

 

If you are a fast-food restaurant 2 and fill 1 trash dumpster at 4 cubic yards 3 times per week, then:

450 lbs * (1 trash dumpster * 4 yd3 * 3 pickups/week) = 5,400 lbs of total disposed waste/week

5,400 lbs * 51% of total waste = 2,754 lbs/week = 1.4 tons of food waste in one week

 

Note: The equation based on weight of disposed waste (above) assumes a weight of 450 lbs/yd3 for mixed commercial waste materials.  It was derived using the median value of EPA’s standard conversion factor:  1yd3 of commercial-industrial waste = 300 to 600 lbs.  You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

 

1 Full-service restaurants are defined as restaurants in which the customer orders and is served at a table.

2 Fast-food restaurants are defined as restaurants in which the customer orders and picks up food at a counter.

 

Supermarkets and Grocery Stores

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for supermarkets and grocery stores.

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If you have 35 full-time employees, then:

3,000 lbs/employee/year * 35 full-time employees = 105,000 lbs food waste generated/year

105,000 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 2,019 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you fill 1 trash dumpster at 4 cubic yards 2 times per week, then:

450 lbs * (1 trash dumpster * 4 yd3 * 2 pickups/week) = 3,600 lbs of total disposed waste/week

3,600 lbs * 63% of total waste = 2,268 lbs/week = 1.1 tons of food waste in one week

 

Note: The equation based on weight of disposed waste (above) assumes a weight of 450 lbs/yd3 for mixed commercial waste materials.  It was derived using the median value of EPA’s standard conversion factor:  1yd3 of commercial-industrial waste = 300 to 600 lbs.  You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

 

Tip:  Large supermarkets with a comprehensive recycling program in place should consider applying to MassDEP’s Supermarket Recycling Program Certification, in which members qualify for certain waste ban regulatory relief.  Learn more here.

 

Venues and Events

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for venues and events.

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For resorts and conference properties:

If you have 476 seats, then:

0.6 lbs/seat/day * 476 seats = 286 lbs/day

286 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 2,002 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you serve 2,000 meals in one week, then:

1 lbs/meal * 2,000 meals served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

For large venues and events 1:

If you have 4,450 visitors in one week, then:

0.45 lbs/visitor * 4,450 visitors = 2,002 lbs = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

If you fill 1 trash dumpster at 6 cubic yards 3 times per week, then:

450 lbs * (1 trash dumpster * 6 yd3 * 3 pickups/week) = 8,100 lbs of total disposed waste/week

8,100 lbs * 25% of total waste = 2,025 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

1 Large venues and events include convention centers, stadiums, theme parks, performing art centers, movie theaters, fairgrounds, special event sites (e.g. parades, sporting events, festivals), and miscellaneous venues (e.g. museums, zoos).

 

Note: The equation based on weight of disposed waste (above) assumes a weight of 450 lbs/yd3 for mixed commercial waste materials.  It was derived using the median value of EPA’s standard conversion factor:  1yd3 of commercial-industrial waste = 300 to 600 lbs.  You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

 

Sources for Industrial Estimates

Cascadia Consulting Group. Waste Disposal and Diversion Findings for Selected Industry Groups. No. 341-2006-0006. California Environmental Protection Agency, June 2006. http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/publications/Documents/Disposal/34106006.pdf.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Waste Reduction and Recycling Guide for Florida Correctional Facilities. Kessler Consulting, Inc., Jan. 2004. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/quick_topics/publications/shw/recycling/InnovativeGrants/  IGyear4/finalprisonguide-72ppi.pdf.

Food Waste Reduction Alliance. Analysis of U.S. Food Waste Among Food Manufacturers, Retailers, and Wholesalers. BSR, Apr. 2013. http://www.foodwastealliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/FWRA_BSR_Tier2_FINAL.pdf.

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Identification, Characterization, and Mapping of Food Waste and Food Waste Generators In Massachusetts. Draper/Lennon, Inc., Sept. 2002. http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dep/recycle/priorities/foodwast.pdf.

Massachusetts Restaurant Association. Interview by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. 2013.

Nichols, P., C. Porter, L. Hammond, and B. Arjmandi. “Food Intake May Be Determined by Plate Waste in a Retirement Living Center.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 102.8 (2002): 1142-144.

Northeast Waste Management Official’s Association (NEWMOA). From Behavior Change to Environmental Outcomes In Sustainable Hospitality: Metrics, Formulas, Variables, & Assumptions. June 2011. http://www.newmoa.org/prevention/projects/hospitality/   From_Behavior_Change_to_Environmental_Outcomes.pdf.

Williams, Peter G., and Karen Walton. “Plate Waste in Hospitals and Strategies for Change.” E-SPEN – The European E-journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism 6th Ser. 6 (2011).

WRAP. The Composition of Waste Disposed of by the UK Hospitality Industry. July 2011. http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/The_Composition_of_Waste_Disposed_of_by_the_UK   _Hospitality_Industry_FINAL_JULY_2011_GP_EDIT.54efe0c9.11675.pdf.