Today’s Dessert: The Top 5 Questions for Managing Food Waste

Evan Bue

Earlier this month we hosted Feeding the Bottom Line: Food Waste 101, an educational webinar dedicated to managing food waste and compostable organics, regulations and cost savings opportunities. This, along with our late September blog, served as the informational entrée and appetizer for managing your food waste. And now, for dessert, we have answers to five of the top questions we’ve been asked about managing food waste.

Bon Appétit.

QUESTION 1:

What is the difference between food waste, green waste, and organic waste?

Food waste is organic material that is food based. Green waste is any organic material derived from plants. Organic waste describes all biodegradable waste material. Pending regional policies or local facility capabilities, only particular forms of organic waste may be accepted as part of your hauler’s offerings.

QUESTION 2:

What equipment is most commonly used for the handling of food waste?

The plastic cart and compostable bag are the most common pieces of equipment used for handling food waste. The smaller, more maneuverable carts allow personnel to store the noxious material away from direct sunlight and customers—in a storage locker or fridge, for example. Compostable bags are also very common as they create a barrier between the material and the container itself. This allows the container to stay clean, thus minimizing the putrid qualities of organic waste.

QUESTION 3:

How do we decide if a dedicated food waste program is something we could benefit from?

Even small amounts of food waste can bloat your waste stream and cost you money. Consequently, any business environment that has organic waste could benefit from a dedicated program. They can range from multi-facility, capital intensive initiatives that utilize multiple compactors, to localized and easily executable ones that only require a 96-gallon cart and a vinyl sign.

QUESTION 4:

What are the key factors that contribute to a successful food waste program?

You can’t manage what you haven’t measured. Consequently, a detailed understanding of the actual material being put in your waste stream is essential. While this can be done multiple ways, a waste audit is particularly useful as it allows for a diverse range of data to be captured.

Once this data is gathered, clear and well articulated diversion goals need to be set. While action plans supporting these goals can vary tremendously, it is important that educational material accompanies the plan’s execution. For instance, signage that is placed directly next to or above an organics container is likely to positively affect diversion rates and reduce the cross contamination of materials.

QUESTION 5:

Why are front-line employees so integral to successful food waste programs?

Waste disposal is among the most hands-on of all fixed facility related expenses. The back-of-house staff in a restaurant, for example, have the sole responsibility of disposing multiple waste materials. One can imagine countless other scenarios in which this is the case, and consequently, initiatives to adequately instruct and educate employees are absolutely essential to the success of a food waste program. Employees who not only understand the initiative’s intent, but the general benefits of proper organic waste disposal, will be more likely to follow procedures and encourage others to do so as well.

Interested in learning more? Check out the webinar recording below to learn how food waste disposal is evolving and how it can benefit your business. Then contact us to learn more about our Zero Waste solution.

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