Despite significant increases in food waste diversion, Massachusetts businesses and institutions still dispose of an estimated 640,000 tons of food material in the trash each year. A recent GreenBiz article looks at opportunities for corporate and institutional foodservice operations to divert food waste and realize cost savings. The article identifies four key strategies, listed below, that consistently reduce food waste. RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) offers resources and assistance to help organizations in Massachusetts implement these strategies.
- Collect the right data. Measuring to determine where and how much food is being wasted is a great place to start. RecyclingWorks offers an online tool to help businesses and institutions estimate their food waste, but a more precise measurement could be made by utilizing the EPA’s Food Waste Logbook, or waste tracking systems such as LeanPath, Winnow, and Phood. Many businesses and institutions in Massachusetts are publicly reporting their food waste data through initiatives such as the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, which provides recognition for food waste diversion efforts through publicity and annual awards.
- Shift consumer norms. Many all-you-can-eat facilities offer trays for diners, but they often fail to consider the high proportion of food waste associated with this serving style. When the University of Massachusetts Amherst removed trays from its dining halls in 2009, it catalyzed a thirty percent reduction in waste. Watch or read the UMass Amherst RecyclingWorks case study to learn more about the university’s food recovery efforts. RecyclingWorks also developed source reduction guidance to help businesses strategize approaches to reduce waste at the source.
- Design menus to reduce food waste. Repurposing excess food into new meals (such as reusing leftover bread for bread pudding or croutons) reduces waste and increases the possibility that businesses may earn revenue from the sale of already purchased inventory. Facilities with a set cycle menu can make “reuse” a part of their operations through a rotating menu slot that features unused items from earlier in the week. The sample waste reduction menu designed by Hotel Kitchen features ingredients that can be creatively repurposed in other dishes.
- Rescue uneaten food. Leftovers are a common occurrence at corporate or institutional food service operations. The RecyclingWorks Food Donation Guidance provides comprehensive information on how to structure and implement a food donation program at your organization.
RecyclingWorks provides no-cost technical assistance to help businesses and institutions implement programs that prevent, recover, and divert waste from disposal. To learn more about our no-cost assistance, or to speak with a food waste expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.