If you have a restaurant, no matter where you stand on global warming and climate change, recycling, composting and just reducing your carbon footprint in some small way, every day, is a noble, feel-good gesture.
Customers will hopefully notice which should yield a profit incentive for businesses: Buying local, reducing packaging, and cutting back on waste can result in savings and economic efficiencies. This is especially true for restaurants where the latest craze is focused on eliminating food waste.
The problem is real: A United Nation’s study states that one-third of food produced in the world is never eaten. In the U.S. there are estimates that 40 million tons of leftover food is dumped in landfills every year.
As a result, there are “sustainable” restaurants all over the world implementing composting programs and food recycling. The farm-to-table movement is catching on as consumers want more fresh healthy food.
In Europe, “ugly food” is the latest sensation as chefs are trying to give new life to misshaped, bruised vegetables and fruits that never make it to grocery store shelves. France put real teeth into the cause by passing a law that bans supermarkets from throwing away unsold foods. These leftovers must now be donated to charities or farms for animal feed.
In the U.S. post-consumer plate waste – the food neither eaten nor boxed up for home – is obviously a unique consumer preference. American culture today revolves around getting more for less money, and food is no exception to this rule. This can lead to wasteful foodservice practices in the effort to entice customers with large, or “family style” portions. Post-consumer food cannot be donated to food banks because of health regulations, so plate waste is always thrown away if it is not doggy-bagged or composted.
Consumers can play a significant role in reducing food waste in restaurants. Suggestions include:
Zero waste isn’t just a pipe dream – it’s real and restaurants are leading the way.