Performing periodic waste audits can uncover new opportunities to prevent food waste at a hotel. A detailed item level audit can expose multiple waste prevention opportunities to the Executive chef, such as reducing standard portion sizes for desserts, rolls, and vegetables.

Step 1: Develop Goals

Develop goals to guide your classification system and the type of audit you should perform, including:

  • Determine my largest driver of food waste
  • Determine my largest volume of food waste

Step 2: Gather Materials

For most audits, you will need:

  • A large space/table for sorting
  • Buckets for each category
  • A scale
  • Gloves, other protective outerwear
  • Sample bags of food to measure from every outlet of audit, labeled accordingly.
  • This audit template, to record data

For more details on a sampling plan refer to the Food Loss and Waste Protocol (FLW): Appendix A, Section A2.

Step 3: Sort and Separate Food Waste

Use your goals to determine categories to sort waste into. The FLW Protocol has suggestions on categories, such as food vs. inedible parts). For sorting efficiency, lightweight packaging can remain on food, but remove heavier packaging. Examples of categories for sorting include:

  • Plate waste
  • Spoiled food
  • Still edible food
  • Inedible parts of food

Step 4: Weigh and Record

Weigh each category and make notes of moisture levels, reasons for waste, and any other notes that could be useful in analysis. Taking detailed notes and photos will help you remember what was in each category and why it likely ended up there.

Step 5: Analyze

Analyze how standard operating procedures (SOPs) along the flow of food are contributing to waste. Start thinking about how you can adapt procedure to decrease overproduction.

Instructions on how to scale your results to estimate the scope of the issue at your property can be found in the FLW Protocol: Appendix A, Section A3.


A lunch buffet audit performed at one of the participating properties in WWF’s pilot project showed 46% of the food produced was not consumed.

Impact of Interventions on Waste per Guest

WWF’s pilot project investigated the impact of separation and tracking, staff training, and onsite audits had on food waste generation. Pilot data showed a 30% reduction rate for groups that did both separation and tracking with video training. An even greater savings can result after real time audits of buffet waste – a 38% reduction was seen at properties who performed an audit in addition to ongoing separation and measurement.