Fighting Food Waste, Part 1: Prevention Prevails
Food waste has become a topic of increasing importance. How do we prevent, divert and manage wasted food? These are all good questions given that in the U.S. we waste 40% of our food resources. Solutions to this issue range from biodigesters and composting, to prevention and awareness. With such a range of options, how do you prioritize action?
The Environmental Protection Agency has developed a Food Waste Management hierarchy to help us focus our actions. The very first tier in the pyramid is source reduction (aka, prevention). Closer to the bottom we find composting and other diversion strategies. This prioritization may seem surprising. Why does composting fall near the bottom?
The answer lies in thinking of food waste in the context of a system. Prevention is the most powerful step because we target both the upstream and downstream impacts associated with food waste. Composting only targets the downstream impact. The reality is that we need an integrated food waste management plan; one that focuses on prevention first and then works through the various diversion strategies.
Food waste management in the context of a complex foodservice operation is no easy task. Many diversion strategies are challenging or inaccessible. Composting depends on existing local infrastructure (facilities for processing). Prevention, on the other hand, is accessible regardless of geographic location or other constraints.
As foodservice operators, prevention is an area where you can do your part to lower the staggering 40% statistic. As the saying goes, energy is better spent focusing on what is within your grasp. You can play a meaningful role in combating the global food waste epidemic.
To learn more about how you can get on the path to food waste prevention, check out LeanPath’s free resources for food waste management.