Impacts Of Restaurant Food Waste On The Planet
There is a fundamental flaw in the way society views the planet. A misconception that leaves us trusting or blindly choosing to believe that because our countries are governed by powerful leaders, they are the ones who will be held accountable for the future well-being of our aging planet. Aside from the select few who live under rocks, the majority of us are aware of the effects our daily lives are having on the well-being of the planet. So, if fingers are to be pointed, make sure you’re facing the mirror.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
We all know how notorious restaurants can be when it comes to producing large quantities of food waste, but did you know about the impact this is having on the planet?
Does food waste really cause any severe impacts on the planet?
Think back to a day when you were sitting down in a restaurant with your family or friends, and you were feeling especially greedy that day, you ordered the biggest plate of food on the menu. Surprise, surprise! Eyes bigger than your belly! You can only devour half the plate. Does this accusing remark sound familiar? “How can you be so wasteful? There are millions of people starving around the world.” There is in fact over 800 million people who go hungry every day. Deaths resulting from the lack of food is estimated to be over 36 million. Maybe next time you’ll think twice and order just the ribs instead of the whole cow.
The other alarming issue on the rise that you may have heard mentioned on several occasions in recent years, is the devastating effects food waste is having on the planet.
Climate Change Implications
We live in a culture of the “bin it and forget about it” mentality. There is very little education and awareness towards the proper means and reasoning’s behind food waste disposal. Though there has been great improvements when it comes to recycling items such as cardboard, bottles and metals, there hasn’t been much focus on reducing and disposing of food waste.
Food waste that is still edible by humans can be donated to organizations that support those less fortunate. Foods that are unsuitable for human consumption can either be sent off to farms where they get fed to livestock, or composted for use as fertilizer on the fields to nourish vegetation.
Unfortunately, the majority of food waste gets deposited in general bins where they then find their final resting place on giant landfills. Mr Gunders explains in his publication Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 of Its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill, that in the US alone an incredible 97% of food waste ends up in the landfills. As these foods break down, they produce carbon dioxide and methane gas, contributing to global climate change.
Wasted Food Wasted Water
How much of our global freshwater supply do you think is used for global food production? Shared reports returned from farms and production companies show that figures exceed a whopping 70% of the supply! A publication report from the progressive increase of food waste in America and its environmental impact, indicates that food waste results in the consumption of more than a quarter of our available freshwater.
The volume of pesticides used on crops each year stretches well over one hundred million pounds! These pesticides may be beneficial to protect your five-a-day fruit and veg, but as they penetrate the soil, it leads to contamination of the groundwater. In addition to that, they cause toxic threats to wildlife such as birds and fish.
Where does food waste come into play with all this, you may be thinking? When there is an increase in consumer demand, the production supply will increase. Wasted food manipulates the figures to show that demand is higher than what is actually needed.
Tackling Restaurant Food Waste
There has been a noticeable change in the way many restaurants tackle the issues of food waste. However, there is still room for improvements, as there are still a significant number of establishments where management of food wastage remains low on their priority list.
Educating And Enforcing
It is down to restaurant managers to educate their staff about the implications of food wastage and to provide the necessary training to tackle the problem. Waste reduction training can include recycling which is basically the concept of not producing waste in the first place. There needs to be strict guidelines when preparing food. Making sure not to over-prepare, using all trimmings and proper storage.
There has to be a structured form of inventory control to monitor accurate food stock requirements. When product stock runs low, orders are written up and forwarded to the suppliers. However, there needs to be a waste audit to help determine how much food makes it to the consumers and how much just gets thrown out. Inventory management companies play a major role in ensuring that stock levels are constantly replenished. With these waste audit reports, there will be a clearer understanding of the true consumer demand, which in turn will lower the supply orders and ultimately the needs for production.
Provide The Tools
Restaurant technology such as refrigerators need to be regularly maintained or replaced once their time has come. Unreliable refrigerators result in foods spoiling quicker and heading straight to the bin.
Provide assorted bins, one of which has to be a compost bin. There is a machine with the Closed Loop system installed that converts food waste into compost. The compost can then be used in local fields.
How Does Food Waste Affect The Business Of A Restaurant?
The concept behind any business model is to be successful and make money. Not to save the planet. So, it would be no surprise if some restaurants turn their backs on the issues of the planet. Food waste, if not monitored and managed efficiently can actually result in financial losses for a restaurant. These losses come from increased stock purchases to make up for food wastage and unnecessary rubbish pick-up fees that could have been prevented had foods been composted properly. The other possibility that restaurateurs should consider is that climate change will lead to an increase in global food prices.
The financial implications will also affect staff morale, as the restaurant owner will be unable to pay decent wages due to budget cuts. This may also lead to possible staff reductions, greater affecting the business as there will be fewer hands to get the jobs done.
Restaurants are not the only culprits of food waste. As long as you are a food consumer, you will have a role to play in reducing food waste and educating the minds of those who are unaware of the impacts it has on the planet.