By Jacob King
In the first part of this blog, we discussed how to conduct a waste audit, to better keep track of what your foodservice operation throws out. Once you've got your data together, the next step is to take a look at your results and come up with ways to cut back on waste.
Evaluating Results and Reducing Waste in Your Operation
After you've conducted your waste audit, you should make plans to meet with your staff, discuss your findings, and then use them to make smarter decisions in the ordering and prep process. What are the biggest contributors to food waste in your kitchen? Why are specific items thrown out? What are some ways to reduce the volume of waste your establishment produces? These are all questions that should be in the back of your mind as you look at the data.
As we discussed in part I, you have the most control over what is produced in your kitchen before the order goes out to the customer (pre-consumer waste). Your efforts, however, can go beyond just cutting back on foods you might order too much of; try to find alternative solutions when it's feasible and safe to do so. Leftover bread can become croutons, for example. Use turkey scraps in a soup or to top off a salad. The EPA offers some helpful hints for how you can do this.
You will also want to look at the data you collect from post-consumer waste (food that has already gone to the customer). While this type of waste is more difficult to control, you may find there are ways to reduce what your customers are throwing out. If your portions are just too big to finish, for instance, try a portion scale or some spoodles to make sure that your customers are getting an appropriate amount of food. Or, if certain items are unpopular, you might consider adjusting the recipe or removing it from the menu.
Continue to Monitor Waste Production and Reduction
The most important step you can take, though, is to continue monitoring your results; don't make this a once-and-done affair. Waste tracking should become a part of your routine, and you should constantly challenge your staff to think of creative ways to improve upon the existing process. At the end of the day, though, your kitchen will still have trash to take out; stay tuned for part III, where we'll discuss some innovative alternatives to the local landfill!