Food Waste Reduction: Post and Pre-Consumer Dynamics
When it comes to food waste there are many solutions. Recently Kansas State University launched a simple print campaign to reduce plate waste. Throughout the cafeteria they posted signs that read “Eat what you take. Don’t waste food.” This awareness campaign resulted in a 15% reduction in plate waste. The KSU program is a great example of how awareness can have huge impacts on post-consumer food waste (plate waste).
Another significant part of the food waste universe that is sometimes overlooked is pre-consumer food waste. This is kitchen and serving line waste, basically anything that is disposed of prior to the plate. Typically pre-consumer food waste accounts for 4-10% of food purchases.
Both pre and post-consumer food waste end up in the landfill at the end of the day but they have very different dynamics that influence the ideal prevention strategy. Most notable is the fact that the operator has more control over the pre-consumer waste stream. Changes to behaviors and practices within the kitchen can lead to significant reduction.
The best food waste prevention plan is one that combines strategies for both post and pre-consumer food waste. For post-consumer food waste awareness campaigns, trayless dining, and smaller portion sizes go a long way. For pre-consumer food waste continuous improvement and measurement lead to a significant reduction.