Blog Post

As foodservice businesses expand their operations or re-open after a period of closure, volumes and patterns of food waste are likely to shift. LeanPath recently hosted a webinar on how to identify and manage food waste as kitchens re-open. By carefully tracking and reducing food waste, businesses and institutions can respond to increased customer expectations for sustainable practices, create efficiency in their operations, and potentially save on hauling costs.

  • Prep small. Smaller batches and cook-to-order meals create flexibility for your staff and customers. Look for ways to prepare the majority of a dish and customize at the end, which can help reduce post-consumer food waste by allowing customers to pick what they actually want to eat. Recognize that your meal periods may be longer due to increased spacing between guests and capacity limitations, which can increase the risk of food spoilage.
  • Craft an intentional menu. When planning your meals, choose ingredients that can be utilized across multiple recipes and repurposed into secondary dishes. For example, day-old bread can be turned into breadcrumbs. Consider leaving a space in your menu for something you are going to repurpose.
  • Station strategically. At this time, self-serve, unattended buffets and other communal serving areas must remain closed in Massachusetts. If you utilize buffet-type stations where staff serve guests, use smaller pans to keep food fresh and limit spoilage. Combine or limit the number of stations to avoid overproduction, and take advantage of your freezer for surplus ingredients and dishes.
  • Avoid stockpiling. Disruptions to the food system may lead to over-purchasing out of fear of limited supply. Instead, order smaller quantities more frequently whenever possible. Check out the Farm to Institution Matchmaking Spreadsheet to identify opportunities to connect with local farms and other food organizations with surplus inventory.
  • Track in real time. Use a paper and pen or technology platforms such as LeanPath, Winnow, and Phood to measure food waste from trimmings and prepared items. Use the data to adjust preparation for the next shift or larger purchasing practices.
  • Keep an eye on the bin. Periodically check your waste bins at the end of the day. If bins are too full or empty when serviced, work with your hauler to adjust pickup frequency. It is likely that your waste volume may be different than it was before COVID-19 related closures. Click here to learn more about managing trash, recycling, and organics when re-opening your business
  • Refresh on waste training. Ensure that all of your staff are aware of facility waste diversion programs, whether they are the same as previously or have been adapted to take different materials. Check with your hauler or end site to confirm that you are putting the right materials in the right bin.

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) can help your business or institution maximize food recovery opportunities. RecyclingWorks offers food waste guidance documents on source reduction of food waste, food donation, and source separation of food scraps. To learn more about our no-cost assistance and speak with a food waste expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at