Food management means more than just preparing meals for consumers. Although the bulk of the work is in the actual preparation, many forget about the odds and ends of this process. Perhaps the second largest product of food management is waste, as it is produced every step of the way.
From pre-consumer to post-consumer, food scraps come out of our kitchens and off of our tables as if the waste were the desired end product. Supermarkets throw out $15 billion in fruits and vegetables each year, which inevitably rot in landfills. All of those spoiled apples and tomatoes not only add up to a loss of these assets to be transformed into something more useful, but also a loss in profit.
Food waste generates a lot of costs. Improper purchasing, overproduction, spoilage and the disposal of this waste are the costs each food industry location pays for, but add in the cost of haulers to transport, store, process and ultimately resell the byproduct – well it adds up to an illogical amount of money.
Companies are finally stepping up to redesign the ways that they handle their food waste. Gone are the days of paying trucks to haul hundreds of pounds of food to useless landfills or even distant compost facilities. Instead, many companies are deploying new ideas and technologies that will help reinforce the three R’s we all know and love, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle:
Reduce. Many companies are now keeping a steady eye on the food that’s going into the trash. Measuring and tracking food waste to source less, sizing portions correctly to create less, and encouraging consumers to take only what they can carry are smart techniques to reduce the overall volume of this waste stream.
Reuse. Most often, pre-consumer waste is still of good quality, but is simply not destined for any specific use. Donation to food agencies battling hunger and to local farms feeding animals is a great use of this commodity.
Recycle. On-site technology, like the Eco-Safe Digester, offers a solution to best implement a more efficient process in disposing what is left. The effluent discharged from the machine is transformed into biogas which is then stored for the creation of energy. In some kitchens, cooking oil and grease are stored and hauled to facilities recycling this waste into animal feed, lubricants, and fuels such as biodiesel. Composting is another solution that attempts to transform the food waste into something useful however, these facilities are not wide-spread.
The traditional three R’s have recently expanded their definitions taking into account smarter reduction strategies, more efficient reuse options, and emerging technologies. The data monitoring of all of these three steps will tie them all together and improve food waste management efforts.