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The Startling Reality of Food Waste in Restaurants

As you can probably imagine, an enormous amount of food is wasted or thrown out at restaurants all across the country every single day. That piece of chicken you left on your plate because you were too full, or those that giant stack of pancakes that the table next to you didn’t finish — it’s all going to be thrown out. Or how about the meal that was asked to be taken back because it didn’t please the customer? Again, this food is usually wasted and will wind up in a landfill.

According to a recent report, a half a pound of food is wasted per meal in restaurants, whether it’s from what is left on a customer’s plate, or in the kitchen itself. Approximately 85% of the food that isn’t used in a typical American restaurant is thrown out while only a small percentage is recycled or donated. With more than 42 million food insecure people in our country, this amount of food waste is obviously a major problem.

The first step toward reducing the amount of food we waste is to change the behavior of the public, as well as chefs and workers at these restaurants, by finding better and smarter ways to use this food in the kitchen, diverting the food to food banks, or composting the food that would have otherwise been wasted.

Any of these solutions would reduce the amount of food that would have ended up in a landfill. Composting facilities are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S., and they are trying their very best to persuade restaurants to separate their food waste instead of just throwing it out. Black Bear Composting in Charlottesville, for example, already has a growing number of clients from local schools and restaurants.

A restaurant called Blue Hill in New York aims to reduce food waste by making meals out of food that would have been wasted, or feeding livestock on Blue Hill’s farm with the food that goes unused.

A new app called Copia aids in the reduction of food waste, as well. A business could easily use this app to schedule pickups of surplus food, and can even have the extra food matched to non-profits that are in need.

The Food Waste Reduction Alliance, which was formed in 2011 by the National Restaurant Association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and the Food Marketing Institute have made an effect to help with this problem of food waste in the U.S., but there is a long way to go. The efforts coming from restaurants, however, is certainly a step in the right direction.

Read more about Food Waste in the United States.

Categories: Food Waste