RESTAURANTS, BANQUETS, HOTELS & PARTY LAWNS are bound to generate a large amount of food waste, especially during the festive & marriage season. This certainly becomes a major concern to the relevant authorities such as management and government. Somehow, control measures have to be put in place so as to ensure that the hotels and restaurants thrive in a pleasant environment. Food waste can arise at various stages of hotel and restaurant operations. Activities relating to handling and preparation of food materials can cause food waste due to such reasons as unidentified demand, overstocking, inefficient production, poor communication, staff behavior, unskilled trimming, and over-merchandising, and expires among other causes.
Current Waste Management Practices
Ordinarily, the priority order is from prevention to reusing, to recycling, and then to landfills. For others, if prevention fails to work for them, they would prefer to optimize it. This means the waste is redirected to feeding people and animals. Otherwise, the waste can be composted or used for renewable energy generation.
Generally, hotel waste management practices include prevention and reduction, recycling, donating, composting, tracking, improving ingredient purchase and storage, smart food merchandising, menu design, employee training, customer engagement, portion control, and service model changes.
Ways to Reduce Food Waste in Restaurants
Food handling and consumption activities in restaurants are bound to cause worrying amounts of food waste. Despite the fact that food wastes reduce the profitability of the restaurant business, there are a host of other challenges to worry about. Such challenges include offensive smells in the restaurant environment and the production of greenhouse gases.
The priority for restaurant management is to reduce food waste by use of such methods as:
1. Conducting food waste audits
This involves analyzing and tracking food waste from the point of its source to the point of its disposal. There are two key factors to be considered during the tracking: the amount of food being wasted and the number of people visiting the restaurant. This data helps management to understand the main source of food waste. The tracking of food waste is done with the help of two methods. First, is a food log system that monitors what type of food is going to waste, why that particular type of food is going to waste, and how much of it is going to waste.
Second, is a traffic log system that takes into account the traffic received by the restaurant, weather changes, and other information that can be used for future planning for visitors and the food to order. Food waste in restaurants can be considered under two major categories – the ones that occurred before serving customers and the ones that occurred after the guests finish dining. The types of waste generated in restaurants during food preparation may include potato peels, roots from leafy vegetables, bones, improperly prepared food, and spilled food. It is estimated that 4 – 10% of raw food in restaurants falls in this category. Any foods that guests have not been able to finish together with any packaging materials contribute to the waste.
2. Avoiding the habit of wasting ingredients before they are prepared
An inventory evaluation exercise needs to be undertaken to enable restaurant management to understand the length of time taken by stored food materials before they can be used in the restaurant. In so doing, possibilities of over-ordering and loss of perishable food materials are reduced. There is also a need to equip restaurant personnel with food waste management skills through relevant training. The training should enable the staff to develop effective food waste management strategies such as re-purposing ingredients.
3. Creating a plan for leftovers
Leftovers arise when waiters serve customers food portions that they cannot afford to finish. This problem can be solved by improving on accuracy of customer orders. Managers have to understand the popularity of each dish and plan to produce the food accordingly. The customers may be encouraged to take any leftover food home. If any food remains, it may be offered to restaurant staff or donated to other needy people.
4. Creating awareness and engaging relevant food teams
Restaurant staff should work as a team while implementing food waste management strategies. The team should be well-sensitized on the problems associated with poor food waste management in restaurants. Members should also be educated on methods of monitoring, storing, and recycling food waste. New staff should always be inducted into the food waste management policy of the restaurant before they are integrated into the teams. Persons chosen to form the teams should preferably be equipped with analytical skills. This would enable them to have a better insight into the problem of food waste in hotels and restaurants. The team should choose a leader who will coordinate the food waste management program. The rest of the members should roles accordingly.
5. Composting the food waste
Hotels and restaurants can plan to compost any compostable food wastes that occur on their premises. For this purpose, they would need appropriate restaurant composting equipment like the popular Kwik Composter machine. They can choose to do the composting alone or with suitable partners.
6. Identifying the number of different types of food waste
The following actions help in identifying different types of food waste in hotels and restaurants:
- Engaging staff in conversations
- Setting aside specific containers for disposing of different types of food waste
- Maintaining a record of different types and quantities of food waste
- Reviewing invoices and other relevant documents
Success in taking these actions depends mainly on staff goodwill. They need to understand the importance of every single action taken.
7. Sorting and weighing food waste
Food waste can easily be sorted using different containers, each for certain types of food waste. Those that can be recycled like food packages, glass, paper, and plastic bottles can be collected separately from organic waste such as food leftovers and raw food materials that can be composted. These major categories can be sorted further as meat, fresh fruit, vegetables, plastics, glass, and others. Determining quantities of respective categories or subcategories also helps in planning for disposal.
8. Other food waste reduction ideas applicable in hotels and restaurants included
- Changing your menu.
- Changing your food. materials purchase strategy
- Educating your staff on operating policies and procedures.
- Investing in high-quality kitchen equipment.
- Changing your plates, in such a way as to reduce portions served.
- Proper storage of fruits and vegetables, in such a way as to reduce loss from perishability.
- Using the “first in first out” strategy of issuing raw food materials.
- Conducting regular stock-taking of raw food materials so as to avoid overstocking.
Restaurant Food Waste Disposal
Food waste disposal is a matter that has raised the concerns of stakeholders severally in the past. The issue has been about finding safe methods of waste disposal. Observing restaurant food waste disposal regulations is another important consideration of good corporate citizenship.
Some of the effective waste disposal methods in hotels can be sampled as follows:
1. Restaurant food waste recycling
You need to develop a system that will ensure that all recyclable types of food waste are always recycled. Organic food waste can be composted to get nutritious manure for crops and can also serve as a soil conditioner. Inorganic waste such as plastics and glass can be reused or recycled.
This involves combustion of the food waste. This method is mainly used for the disposal of hazardous and toxic food wastes. Ash, which comes out as a by-product can supply valuable nutrients to crops.
This involves the decomposition of organic food wastes by microbes. It can be done by accumulating food waste in a pit for a long period of time or by using a composting machine. The compost produced can be used as plant manure.
4. Sanitary landfill
This involves dumping food waste in a landfill with a protective lining at the base. The lining prevents toxic chemicals from filtering into the underground water zone. This method is the least preferred because it is the source of harmful greenhouse gases such as methane.
Food waste management remains a complicated issue because there are several factors involved. Restaurant food waste facts available point to many serious impacts on the environment, revenue, and quality of life in society. It is apparent that the issue of solid waste management in hotels and restaurants is yet to be tackled with the most fitting solution. However, it is evident that appreciable efforts are being made by stakeholders to effectively handle the challenges relating to food waste in hotels and restaurants.