To reduce waste, you must first establish a baseline of how much organic material you are tossing! And to find that out, you’ll need to dig in…to your trash.

A separation and measurement plan must be simple and integrated into property operations. It will provide insight into the largest drivers of food waste. Only then you can think about your reduction goals.

There are a few different options for how to separate, below – work with your team to decide which is right for your staff and goals.

The most important thing is to capture data that you can learn from and act on. Tracking food waste over time can further inform changes to food service, guide waste management efforts and justify waste-reduction activities.


Bins and Beyond

You may need a new set of bins to keep food waste separate.

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All About Audits

Performing an audit is the key first step in developing a measurement program.

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Technology in the Kitchen

Ready to dig deeper? Here are your options for tech-enabled tracking.

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“We need to start by consistently tracking and reporting waste. We have an eco-initiative but in my opinion it isn’t credible. We aren’t consistent and it isn’t monitored regularly.”

Impact of Separation

Pilot results show that the act of separating, without any other training, can reduce waste at properties by at least 5-10%. Staff can see the quantity of food waste they are generating in the kitchen and the amount returning from buffets, which, based on interviews with these properties, prompts staff to make changes to their production techniques and portion sizing. These results are from a limited sample size, but the decreasing trend was seen across multiple properties.

Single Stream:

Separates organics from landfill or other recycling streams, possibly as designated by local regulation.

Pros: Simple, low cost, only one-color waste bin for food required, easy to communicate to staff
Cons: Insights drawn from data are be limited

Phase Separation:

Separates food waste produced at different phases of production (Storage, Prep, Overproduction, Plate). Need color-coding or labeled bins.

Pros: Low cost, additional data points provide more insight on waste drivers
Cons: Requires staff retraining, procurement of multiple colored bins and development of clear signage

Dual Stream:

Separate and measure food waste produced into Pre-Service, and Post-Service streams. Requires color-coding or labeling bins.

Pros: Simple, low cost, data will provide insights to make changes to both front- and back-of-house
Cons: Requires more staff training and is more time intensive.

Technology Enabled Tracking

Tracks food waste by food type. Can work with on-site organics processing. Requires license with tracking technology.

Pros: Provides immediate data to make minute-to-minute adjustments
Cons: Capital investment or subscription service, requires staff retraining
Learn more about these options.