Green Biz recently reported on how the World Resources Institute (WRI) is taking steps to reduce office food waste in line with state, federal, and international food waste reduction goals. Below are some strategies and steps that your organization can take to address and reduce wasted food:
- If your office does not already have one, consider creating a “Green Team”. It is important to include individuals from different departments to increase opportunity for new ideas and feedback systems. This committee or group can provide a centralized voice for food waste reduction strategies and other sustainability initiatives in the company.
- Conducting a waste audit provides a baseline understanding of what waste your office is producing and where it is generated. Audits can be conducted by volunteer staff, such as the office Green Team, or outsourced to a third-party consulting agency. There are numerous guides for conducting waste audits. Resources available from LeanPath and the US EPA use K-12 schools as an example, although the guidance is also relevant for many businesses. Key factors to consider are the type of organic waste that is generated on-site (e.g. surplus food, food scraps, compostable paper) and any potential trends such as times of the year or days of the week when your office is more or less likely to generate food waste. Businesses with a corporate cafeteria on-site can also reference the RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) Food Waste Estimation Guide to determine whether they are likely subject to the Massachusetts Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban.
- Leftovers are a common occurrence after business meetings, catered lunches, and other corporate events. Work closely with your office manager or catering department to prevent over-purchasing food. WRI staff are instructed to cut the amount they initially plan to order for these events by 25%, both reducing wasted food and saving money. A useful resource for estimating the amount of food needed for a group is Save the Food’s Guest-imater. After the event, make leftovers available for other employees, using clear signage and a heads-up email.
- For large events or offices with on-site food service operations, donating edible food is a great way to divert wasted food and feed the local community. The RecyclingWorks Food Donation Guidance provides comprehensive information on how to structure and implement a food donation program at your organization.
- Remember that inedible food can also be recovered through a food scraps diversion program. RecyclingWorks has created case studies that show how offices of various sizes have started diverting food scraps for composting or animal feed.
- Office food waste recovery programs are not only good for the environment; these efforts can also improve employee job satisfaction as staff recognize their efforts are making a positive impact. Consider incorporating employee feedback about ways to further prevent wasted food in the office through online surveys or other channels to maintain interest and engagement.
RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts can help your office tackle food waste through our no-cost technical assistance. To speak to a food waste expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.