Zero Food Waste: Is it Possible?
Have you heard the term Zero Waste? If you answered “yes”, you’re not alone. Many foodservice managers and chefs have been learning about Zero Waste initiatives recently and looking specifically at the feasibility of zero food waste. Operators tend to have one of two reactions:
* That’s an impossible goal, we can’t run out of food! How can we reduce food waste to zero when we have no control over guests and it’s difficult to match production and demand perfectly?
* That’s an easy goal, I’ll just send everything to composting! If you put all your food waste in compost you can legitimately claim that you are sending “zero waste” to the landfill.
The reality is that achieving “true” zero food waste lives somewhere between these two perspectives.
Yes, you are headed in the right direction to become a “Zero Food Waste” operation by composting and sending zero food waste to a landfill. Composting takes effort but it delivers major benefits by reducing methane gas emissions at landfills.
However, even if you compost 100% of your pre and post-consumer food waste, you can’t declare victory and move on. Why not? Because composting is food waste diversion; it is not food waste reduction.
Definition of Zero Waste: to minimize waste, reduce consumption, maximize recycling/diversion and ensure that products are made to be reused, repaired or recycled back into nature or the marketplace. In other words, aiming to eliminate rather than manage waste.
A true “Zero Food Waste” initiative requires that you focus on both reduction and diversion. If you view composting as an excuse for not having a food waste reduction program, you are missing an opportunity and may inadvertently “greenwash” the situation.
So what does a waste reduction program involve? The core element is food waste tracking – daily tracking for pre-consumer food waste and periodically for post-consumer waste. If you can’t measure your food waste, you can’t begin to manage it. Once you start tracking food waste, you have the ability to focus employees and guests on the issue, diagnose problems and set goals for improvement.
So, is Zero Food Waste possible? Absolutely. Provided you are focusing on source reduction (through food waste tracking) and have a full composting program for pre and post-consumer food waste.
Food Waste Tracking Systems: Visit www.leanpath.com
Composting Information: Visit www.findacomposter.com
Excerpt from LeanPath’s Food Waste Flyer Vol. 6 http://www.leanpath.com/lpweb/newsletter_vol_6.htm