With over a third of food ending up as waste, it’s essential for restaurant owners, and even regular consumers, to have a sustainable waste disposal plan. The environmental cost of food waste is not limited to just the energy and water used to prepare that food. It also includes the impact of the methane gas that rotten food emits into the environment. Restaurant waste goes beyond just food—it includes food packaging.
This is why environmentally friendly packaging is such a rage right now. Food businesses must know how to take care of how they present or market their products. Aside from the packaging, grease traps, a common feature in most restaurants, can become a source of environmental contamination if not adequately maintained. That is why your business must be cut above the rest, creating a complete and sustainable waste disposal plan.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle are the three Rs of sustainable waste management you can use to start. Using them will ensure your waste disposal strategies either help you reduce your restaurant’s waste production or ensure certain products are used more than once to minimize waste. Your overall overhead expenses will probably decrease as reusing items around your restaurant instead of buying new ones can add up to a substantial saving.
If you’re ready to start brainstorming an environmentally conscious waste disposal plan, then this guide is for you. This article will cover various restaurant waste classifications, the importance of sustainable waste management, and some practices for sustainable waste disposal.
Classifications Of Restaurant Waste
Restaurant waste can be divided into simple categories. The first category is food preparation waste. It’s comprised of the waste generated during the food preparation process in a restaurant. Roots, vegetable peelings, and animal bones belong to this group of waste.
The food waste category is the second type of waste. And customers’ leftover food constitutes this type of waste. There is also a type of waste known as consumer food waste. This includes food purchased by consumers but not consumed.
Finally, there’s disposable waste found in every restaurant. All packaging, including that for food or juice, is considered disposable waste. Depending on the type of waste you have at the time, there should be a sustainable way to dispose of and handle it.
Why Sustainable Restaurant Waste Management Is Important
Do you know that food waste is one of the factors contributing to the production of greenhouse gases? When food is thrown in a landfill, it decomposes and breaks into smaller particles. When this happens, greenhouse gases such as methane are created.
Methane is harmful and largely contributes to air pollution. Its impact is thought to be 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide over 100 years. So methane, just like carbon dioxide, but at a faster rate, kills and affects the ozone layer, which is a three-layered gas that prevents the sun from hitting directly on the earth.
If this happens, it leaves the earth vulnerable to the sun; hence, severe cancer and other diseases will be common. Therefore, the issue of sustainability in waste disposal at restaurants is a major one since restaurants contribute to the mass production of food waste daily.
So, if restaurants play an active role in protecting the ozone layer, then there’s still hope for saving the ozone layer.
Besides helping to protect the environment, sustainable waste management can also help in the personal growth of your business. You can maximize profits by cutting the costs of some fines that you may be forced to pay if you don’t adhere to the waste disposal standards in your area. Also, you can save some money when you learn how to save some food items to prevent them from going bad before they are used. The same applies when you reuse certain products; it can help you cut some costs that may be noticeable.
If you’ve decided to follow the sustainable way to dispose of your restaurant waste, you have to be committed to doing so. You should set up some things before you start, such as engaging some companies that may help you achieve your goal. This may seem like a big job to handle, but once you start, it’ll get easier as you go.
Steps To A Sustainable Disposal Of Food Waste
While composting, recycling, and reducing waste are the most common practices when it comes to efficient waste management, there are still some simple steps that you can take to further reduce the environmental impact of restaurant waste. So, below are some tips to follow for sustainable disposal of restaurant waste.
1. Create A Realistic Plan
Practicing sustainability requires you to have a plan in place. This plan will help you achieve your goal of properly disposing of your restaurant waste. The first thing you should do when creating your plan is to write down your goals and objectives.
While the general objective of proper waste disposal and management would be to limit the amount of waste, it would be beneficial for your company’s growth to set specific objectives and goals. These goals should be achievable.
To help with this, specify who manages the waste in your restaurant. Having a manager for waste management is essential since it gives specific responsibility to one person who helps enforce how waste is being dealt with. That’ll eventually lead to restaurant behavior where proper waste disposal is taken seriously.
So, remember first to set your goals and objectives and appoint a person responsible for helping you meet your goals in your plan.
2. Measure Waste Produced
Measuring the amount of waste produced can be an effective way to identify areas where waste can be reduced and optimize waste disposal practices. By tracking the amount of waste produced, you can identify patterns and trends in waste generation and adjust the operations to minimize waste.
Measuring waste production can also provide valuable data that can be used to set waste reduction goals and evaluate the effectiveness of waste management practices. Additionally, it can help identify where waste reduction efforts can be targeted, such as excess food production or inefficient inventory management.
It would be best if you considered giving away extra food as a charity to help with sustainable waste management. Donating food is important because instead of leaving the food to rot in the dumpster, it’ll be consumed. And in turn, no harm will have been done to the environment.
As stated before, food is one of the factors that’s contributing largely to greenhouse gas emissions. So, the more food you throw away, the more probability it may harm the environment through air pollution. So, consider giving away extra food to those who need it.
You could start by having a zero hunger tolerance campaign to support those homeless people in your area. And also, you could offer some of this extra food to your employees. With this, you’ll serve two purposes: bringing sustainability to your environment through less food waste and feeding those in need.
4. Segregate Your Restaurant’s Waste
After looking at how much waste your restaurant produces, it’s time for you to group the waste. While grouping waste might seem like too much, it becomes easier to manage if done every day or every time waste is handled. So, you have to separate recyclable materials from non-recyclable materials.
Non-recyclable material will consist of leftover foods, while recyclable waste will consist of food packaging material, juice bottles, and other plastics. Once you group the waste, managing your waste disposal strategies becomes easy.
For example, you wouldn’t want to throw away leftover food and plastics in the same trash can. That’s because if taken by trash companies as it is, it could contribute to the already high percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. So, make sure you prevent this from happening by grouping your restaurant waste.
5. Recycle Waste
Recycling is an important component of sustainable waste disposal practices in restaurants. By recycling materials such as glass, plastic, and aluminum, restaurants can divert waste from landfills and reduce their environmental impact.
Recycling also helps to conserve natural resources, as recycled materials can be used to create new products. Additionally, recycling can be cost-effective, as it reduces the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of, which can lead to lower waste management fees.
However, it is important to keep in mind that recycling is not a silver bullet solution for waste management. The recycling process itself can have environmental impacts, and it is essential that materials are properly sorted and cleaned before they are recycled. In addition, recycling should be viewed as one aspect of a comprehensive waste management strategy.
It is also crucial that restaurants work with their waste management providers to ensure that recycling practices are aligned with local recycling guidelines and regulations.
6. Start A Compost
After segregating your waste, consider creating a composting system for the most perishable items. Before you go on with composting, you should know whether you can handle the compost independently or whether your town by-laws restrict you from composting on-site. If you’re not allowed to compost waste on-site, you’ll have to look for composting sites and a carriage service.
But if you’re going to compost the waste on-site, you have to know how to handle the process. You could dispose of things such as fruits, vegetables, paper napkins, coffee grounds, and wood ashes in your compost.
Some things that don’t belong in compost are dairy products, meat or meat bones, fat, oil, and grease. So, starting a compost will help ensure that your waste does not release harmful gases because it’ll have been properly arranged, with only waste that is appropriate for composting.
7. Utilize Grease Traps
Another way to sustainably dispose of waste in a restaurant is through grease traps. Grease traps are plumbing devices that capture fats, oils, and grease (FOG) from wastewater before they enter the sewer system. This helps to prevent FOG from clogging pipes and causing sewage backups, which can have costly and environmentally damaging consequences.
However, it is important to note that grease traps need to be properly maintained to be effective. If not cleaned regularly, grease traps can overflow, leading to blockages and environmental contamination. Restaurants should work with their waste management providers to develop a regular maintenance schedule and ensure the collected FOG is disposed of properly.
Additionally, FOG can be recycled into biofuels and other useful products, providing an additional environmental benefit. Restaurants should explore options for recycling FOG with their waste management providers to reduce their environmental impact and potentially lower their waste management costs.
8. Increase Staff Awareness
Furthermore, you can increase your restaurant waste disposal systems by increasing staff awareness at your company. You can do this by holding sustainability workshops with your team regularly. You could select topics about building a sustainable, eco-friendly environment in these workshops. You can also talk about how your team can use and reuse items to decrease the waste that needs to be disposed of.
Lastly, you can talk to your team about composting if you’re doing on-site composting. That means you can talk to them about the products that can be composted and others that can be recycled.
Through this, you’ll be sure that everyone is working towards the same goal: making a living while creating a sustainable environment for others. So, you should consider increasing your staff awareness to ensure that you share the same sustainability vision. As part of the awareness campaigns, paying attention to your team’s suggestions is important. That’s because the new ideas could help you improve your waste management plans.
Businesses, specifically restaurants, have a significant impact on all aspects of sustainability. You can use sustainable and effective waste disposal methods to influence change and create an eco-friendly environment.
While implementing sustainable waste disposal practices can require an initial investment of time and resources, the benefits can be significant, including potential cost savings, improved brand reputation, and reduced environmental impact. Furthermore, sustainable waste disposal practices can be implemented in restaurants of all sizes and types, from fast-casual chains to fine dining establishments.
There’s no time like the present to start implementing sustainable waste disposal practices.
Article Submitted By Community Writer