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Americans waste about 119 billion pounds of food annually. This is about 40% of all food in the US.
If your commercial venue is looking to prevent food waste, there are some things you need to know. Read on to learn the impacts of wasting food and how you can reduce these serious problems.
The Environmental and Ethical Impacts of Food Waste
There are very few food waste laws in the US. While composting laws do outline what can and can't be composted, they ultimately don’t prevent food from being wasted. Food service, residential sectors, and retail venues waste about 66 million US tons of food in a single year. About 60% of this is sent to landfills.
When food rots in landfills, it produces a chemical called methane. This greenhouse gas is extremely toxic. It's more potent to the environment than carbon dioxide. Methane can kill wildlife when dispelled into the environment and cause damage to the ecosystem.
Additionally, wasting food also wastes the water and energy that it takes to produce the food. Growing it takes a lot of energy and equipment and harvesting and transporting food is a labor-intensive process. Packaging it also uses a lot of plastic, styrofoam, and similar non-renewable resources that pollute the environment.
Finally, on a humanitarian level, food waste could go to the 34 million Americans experiencing food insecurity. Since it's possible to decrease food waste and get resources to the hungry, this impact is a huge ethical issue for commercial venues that regularly waste a lot of food.
The Economic Impacts of Food Waste
Reducing food waste also has a massive economic impact on restaurants, hospitals, and cafeterias. Research shows that every dollar invested in decreasing this waste saves restaurants about $7. That's a huge ROI - about 700%!
Sixty-six percent of Americans are also willing to pay more for sustainable products and brands. Decreasing food waste and boasting eco-friendly policies can help keep your commercial business competitive.
How Can Your Decrease Food Waste in Your Restaurant?
Customizing and diversifying your menu to offer multiple portion sizes is a great way to decrease food waste. You won't serve people so much food that they must throw it away. You also can take leftover food to local food banks, churches, and soup kitchens. This distributes food to needy individuals rather than wasting it.
Additionally, you can prevent commercial and restaurant food waste by:
- Not over-buying food supplies that will go bad in large quantities
- Storing food correctly so it doesn't spoil and become unusable
- Control temperatures to prevent spoiled food
- Keep a stock inventory so you know what you're wasting
- Cut back on ordering food that you waste frequently
- Eliminate menu items that don't sell enough to be environmentally viable
You can also decrease waste more generally with sustainable takeout containers and cutlery. This offsets your carbon footprint and creates some balance when you do need to throw food away. It also means less plastic and cardboard in landfills.
Prevent Food Waste the Right Way
Now that you know how to reduce food waste in your restaurant or other commercial venue, it's time to take more steps to protect the environment.
EnviroTakeout is committed to offering sustainable takeout containers, cutlery, and tableware to restaurants like yours. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you protect the environment by reducing commercial food waste.