Blog Post

As restaurants and other food-service operations adapt to a new normal, the associated changes in procurement practices, customer base, and hours of operation can lead to increased levels of food waste. RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) recently spoke with PAGU, a restaurant in Cambridge, to learn more about how they reduce food waste throughout their operations while also expanding community donation programs.

In addition to composting and recycling, PAGU follows intentional purchasing guidelines to reduce food and packaging waste. The restaurant chooses ingredients that are versatile and can be incorporated into recipes at different stages. They also utilize all parts of the ingredient, such as stems from produce and the liquid from tofu or chickpeas.

As the food supply chain continues to be disrupted, PAGU purchases surplus food from local farms that would otherwise go to waste. In addition to using the ingredients themselves, the restaurant sanitizes and reuses the majority of the packaging it receives. Smaller items are used to package individual meals, and larger boxes are used to transport deliveries or for customer pickup at the restaurant’s new grocery store.

PAGU also engages in safe and sustainable food donation practices through the “Off Their Plate” initiative, which provides meals to frontline healthcare workers and other essential family meal programs. The scalable model was initiated in Boston, and has expanded to nine cities and served over 18,000 meals to the local community.

RecyclingWorks provides no-cost assistance to businesses and institutions to help maximize food waste diversion opportunities. Our website offers case studies and guidance documents on source reduction of food waste, food donation, and source separation of food scraps. To speak with a food waste expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at