The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and World Resources Institute (WRI) recently released a report about cost savings realized by caterers who invest in food waste reduction. WRAP and WRI conducted their research on behalf of Champions 12.3, an international alliance of executives from government, industry, research institutions, and other organizations. The research analyzed cost and benefit data from eighty-six sites across 6 countries that implemented food waste reduction measures. Sites that implemented these measures reduced food waste by an average of 36% in one year and caterers saved $6 for every $1 invested on average.
Food waste reduction investments included food waste measurement equipment (such as smart scales), staff training, and menu redesigns. Cost savings were realized in the form of purchasing less food, decreased waste management costs, and additional revenue from menu items made using unsold food and items previously considered to be food scraps.
The full report describes the following key strategies that caterers in the study utilized to successfully reduce food waste and realize cost savings:
- Measuring food waste to determine where in the operation food is being wasted, and how much. RecyclingWorks offers a tool to help you estimate your food waste, but a more accurate measurement could utilize the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Waste Logbook or technological assistance like smart scales and software.
- Engaging staff through management guidance, regular meetings, formal trainings, and peer learning opportunities. Staff should also feel secure that they will not be blamed for waste, which could lead to inaccurate measurements. Instead, staff should be rewarded for accurate measurements.
- Starting small and getting creative with pilot programs. These pilots can be adjusted as necessary and can help demonstrate the financial benefits before a program is fully implemented.
- Reducing overproduction of foods that are under-consumed, and development of accurate forecasting of consumer demand. RecyclingWorks developed source reduction guidance to help business reduce overproduction at the source.
- Repurposing excess food into new meals (such as reusing meat left over from breakfast to prepare a dinner dish). This strategy reduces waste and increases the possibility that the business may earn revenue from the sale. Repurposing items like peels and bones helps businesses derive the greatest value possible from these foods.
RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts helps businesses and institutions maximize recycling, reuse, and composting opportunities. RecyclingWorks offers guidance on the source reduction of food waste and can provide free technical assistance to help your business or institution reduce waste in your operations. Call our hotline at (888) 254-5525 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today to speak to a recycling expert.