In the restaurant business, waste segregation and management are key elements in day-to-day operations. Those in the food business should take extra care to ensure that their establishments are always up to code for waste disposal in their kitchens.
Proper waste segregation, in any scenario, is an essential aspect of daily life. It is imperative in our homes, and that importance only escalates if it is a part of your business. Segregation and management of waste, especially for those in the restaurant business, can make or break its existence. Thus, those in the food industry must take extra care to ensure that their establishments understand the importance of waste segregation. More so, businesses should always be up to the standards for waste disposal in their kitchens.
Waste Segregation in a Nutshell
Before we move on to the other aspects of waste management, it is first essential to know what waste segregation is in the first place?
Waste segregation is the process of separating or sorting out waste into different categories. Segregating our trash is something we are taught in school and if you run a food business, the methodology is no different.
To get the best and most efficient results, waste segregation of food should be done at its source, i.e., as it is being generated. Thus, it pays to have readily available waste segregation bins where the kitchen staff can chuck garbage immediately. The typical setup involves a wet bin and another for dry items. Some businesses will have a separate container for difficult to dispose of items such as oil. Others create a container for composting food waste - more on this later. Contrary to belief, having a proper waste disposal system in place is not an expensive endeavor. It only takes time and effort to produce the best results.
How Mismanaging Food Waste Disposal Can Cost You
In a more practical sense, the mishandling of kitchen waste will cost you some money, which is not where you want to be when running a business. Not to mention that mismanagement of waste produced in kitchens can catch the attention of the local government. This is something you want to avoid since any violations can result in the cancellation of permits and licenses to operate. Aside from the repercussions to your establishment, improper waste disposal impacts the environment significantly.
As you continue reading below, we go through some of the most compelling arguments about why waste management is essential in the restaurant business. The gist of it is that you need to implement proper waste disposal methods for your business to continue to operate, and it does not get any more important than that. For any restaurant to be in business, you just have a waste management system that is up to code. However, be that as it may, many business owners continue to operate with less-than-ideal waste disposal systems. While they may save a few thousand with their seedy practices, the harm that comes to the environment and their customers can be consequential.
Waste Management is Not a Mere Trend
Being aware enough to care about the environment when you are a restauranteur is not just jumping on the bandwagon; it is quite profitable. Letting your business run on eco-friendly terms doesn't make you a hippie or a tree hugger (though there is nothing wrong with being either); it just means that you care about the quality of the environment that you live in.
Sadly, there are restaurant owners who only often care about those food items they make money off and not the ones they need to spend on to dispose of. Such a mindset makes proper waste handling end up on the back burner.
The importance of waste segregation often ends up ignored, and one concrete example of improper handling can be seen in oil disposal. Though many would deny it, waste oil gets discarded into the drainage system. There it lays until it hardens, becoming an even bigger issue in the long run. Since fat is not water-soluble, such waste can clog up pipes when mishandled. In turn, these backed-up systems can burst, resulting in massive damage and expenses.
Restaurant owners who handle their waste correctly may or may not be ecologically concerned but save themselves from these hefty repair bills by responsibly managing their waste products.
Proper Kitchen Waste Disposal Protects the Environment
When your dining establishment follows proper waste segregation and disposal procedures, you do your part in safeguarding the environment. Food waste that gets to a landfill produces large amounts of methane gas, one of the most damaging greenhouse gases. By not correctly disposing of your garbage, you contribute to climate change.
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Kitchen Waste Management Protects Your Customers
The business of restaurants revolves around serving quality food and service to customers. Safe and clean food goes hand in hand with proper sanitation standards, especially in areas where the food is being prepared. When your establishment cares about how the food is made and uses adequate food waste recycling, it translates to the customer's well-being.
Proper Waste Disposal Protects You and Your Employees
Ensuring cleanliness in the workplace and proper kitchen waste disposal also translates to securing your employees' workplace and ensuring they have a safe place to engage in their activities. A clean working environment equates to healthier employees who are less prone to accidents, increasing productivity along the line. As the owner, one of the benefits of waste segregation is having your business up to the sanitation code.
How to Handle Kitchen Waste Segregation Efficiently
We know it is essential, but how does one manage their kitchen waste then? A restaurant's kitchen, especially a busy one, generally produces a lot of food waste. So how does one effectively start a waste segregation system? There are multiple ways to manage kitchen waste effectively. Let's look closely at some of them.
Don’t shop in bulk
- Just because it is cheaper to purchase in volume, it does not make it a good buy.
- Make sure that the item you intend to buy in bulk is one that your business uses a lot of; don’t overstock. Otherwise, these may end up in waste segregation bins if they go bad in storage.
Manage your inventory
- Know precisely what and how much stock you have at a given time.
- Always practice the FIFO (first in, first out) method.
Donate leftover food to charity
- When possible, donate the excess to a local charity, shelters, or even farms as animal feed.
- Should your community permit donations, be sure to check the expiration dates of products you intend to give away first.
Design custom menu
- Tweak your menu to be as inclusive as possible.
- Always have options that allow customers to include or exclude items in their meals. For example, people may not always want to have fries with their burgers, and if you ask them in advance, the fries will not end up in the leftover tray.
Compost your food waste
- A waste segregation system can include a compost bin for leftover food or byproducts.
- Through a food composting initiative, you cement your business as the kind that aims to give back to the community. It's a good way to dispose of food waste and promote your business.
Track product expiration dates
- Pay attention to the expiration dates on all products that are delivered to you.
- Avoid restaurant waste by selecting ingredients that still have a long shelf life.
What You Can Do as a Restaurant Owner
Remember, your employees look up to you as their leader. Do your part by integrating these solutions in the workplace.
1. Create a dedicated team for waste management
Depending on how large an outfit you run, you can create a team or assign a person to keep an eye out specifically on your waste segregation efforts. Not only will you be able to take a closer look at what is going on at the back end of your restaurant business, but this activity will double as a meaningful employee engagement activity for your employees. This way, your restaurant can have a more thorough waste audit, and when you have this, you have more visibility as to what direction you are going to take.
Identifying the kinds of waste your establishment produces can give you valuable insights into what areas you need to improve. Proper restaurant waste segregation will drive you to decide whether you need to contract or outsource your waste segregation and disposal to another company or do it yourself.
Another great benefit of well-executed restaurant waste management is that you will know what food items on the menu have the most leftover and act accordingly. With this information, you can then change or tweak your menu until the least amount of leftover exists. With this same data, you can also determine the correct portions to serve your customers, as more often than not, the portion may be too large, which results in wastage.
2. Educate your staff
Start with your employees and train them to effectively reduce the waste produced in the business day. Making sure that the employees are properly trained in food preparation will ensure that the minimum amount of food is wasted. Improper food preparation is a significant contributor to food being wasted in restaurants worldwide.
Even movements to and from the kitchen have a role in reducing waste in the restaurant world. For instance, servers working in bars are trained to move circularly to avoid spilling drinks and minimize any waste. In short, kitchen waste auditing always starts with the people who work there.
3. Invest in good quality equipment
As the food preparation stage is most prone to wastage, investing in good quality kitchen equipment is a great idea. Small details like using the right knife for peeling go a long way to ensure everything is prepared the way it should be. Details like this will add up and benefit your restaurant. Well-maintained tools and appliances also contribute to ensuring that less waste is created. Think of a busy kitchen that relies on a particular piece of the appliance to make the workload less heavy. When this tool isn't in working order, the process needs to be done manually. In a rush, the person chopping, mashing, peeling, etc., can make more mistakes that result in waste.
Furthermore, it pays to have excellent quality food waste segregation equipment. While some restaurants target being a zero-waste restaurant, reality steps in and makes it almost impossible to do so. Having that conscious effort to manage waste properly will do wonders for your business, your employees, your customers, and most of the environment. When your employees see the restaurant as having that mindset to help clean the environment, the prouder they would be to be part of that establishment, and for sure, the community will notice.
It’s Never Too Late to Start
Waste segregation is indeed an additional item to add to your employees' to-do list. Yes, there are some minor expenses involved in creating a disposal station for segregating all the garbage that your business will generate. These minor inconveniences, however, will be more beneficial in the end. When done right, you can very well save money from the wastage that gets drastically cut down. You also become one less person who contributes to environmental issues. It's a win-win!