10 Tips to Reduce Restaurant Waste


Food Waste

Reducing restaurant waste isn’t just for budget curmudgeons and hipsters. As the world’s population grows and the space to put everyone’s garbage decreases, it’s time to start taking a good look at how we can all reduce the amount of trash we create.

1. Schedule or conduct a waste audit

A waste audit will allow you to the see a full scale report of how much trash your business creates. It can also be an eye-opening experience for how efficiently your money and inventory is used. There are a couple of different approaches to conducting a waste audit, and it can be done by professionals or with a team of in-house staff. If you opt to have professionals do it, contact your garbage company. If you prefer to use your own resources, learn more about the basics of conducting an audit here.

2. Recycle

By now we’ve all heard the motto “reduce, reuse and recycle.” This mantra may be an oldie, but it’s still a goodie. With curbside recycling available through most waste-removal services, it’s easier than ever to keep recyclables out of the trash. Take a good look at how your business is handling recyclable items and make it as easy as possible for employees and customers alike to recycle in your store.  » Learn More about Starting a Restaurant Recycling Program

3. Watch food waste

Keep a record of what is put in the trash by every staff member and check it daily. If you’re noticing a certain menu item coming back with plenty left on the plate, consider downsizing the portion size. If a particular ingredient is expiring before it can be fully used, order less of it. By paying attention to your inventory, including purchasing invoices and what is brought back to the kitchen or thrown out, you’ll be able to get a clearer picture of what items can be re-worked to minimize waste.

4. Buy items made from recycled content

When you purchase items made from recycled material, you are supporting the recycling loop.

5. Send crates and pallets back to the shipping company

Pallets and food crates are reusable. Give your distributors a call to see what packing items can be sent back. You can also post an ad for “free crates and pallets” on community forums like Craigslist. Both items are becoming increasingly popular with crafters and DIY enthusiasts.

6. Pulp and compost food waste

Turn yesterday’s leftovers into rich soil by composting. Whether you start a composting program on-site or contract services through a commercial composting facility, composting is the most practical and useful way to keep food waste out of landfills.

7. Collect and recycle used oil and grease

Used fryer oil and other forms of cooking grease are a valuable commodity to biodiesel and rendering firms.  Many larger cities have organizations devoted to helping restaurants and biodiesel drivers work together.  Check out these tips for recycling used oil in your restaurant’s kitchen and use this handy locator to see where you can recycle used oil in your area.

8. Reclaim water for cleaning

Did you know that you can save water by pre-soaking dishes with re-used final rinse water? Conserving water helps save on your water bill and its good for the planet! » Learn More about Reusing Water in the Commercial Kitchen

9. Use reusable cleaning cloths

Use reusable cleaning cloths in place of any clean up where you would regularly use a paper towel.

10. Say no to Styrofoam and plastic disposables

All plastic and Styrofoam takeout or disposable items have biodegradable and compostable counterparts. » Learn More about the Advantages of Biodegradable Disposables

photo credit: szczel via photopin cc


About Author

Maggie Henderson

Maggie once gained five pounds in pursuit of the perfect Indian dal recipe. When she isn't cooking, she spends her days as a marketer and her nights and weekends blogging, taking pictures and chasing after her son and dog.


  1. Pingback: How Restaurants are Cutting Down on Food Waste | On the Fly with FSW

  2. Yes, it’s important to just really be involved with what you throw away, especially food. Be proactive in saving and reusing materials that can still be utilised, instead of just throwing them out.

Leave A Reply