Tag Archives: Reduce Reuse Recycle

The Food Waste Hierarchy

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According to the National Resources Defense Council:

  • Approximately 40% of all edible food is thrown away in the U.S.
  • Supermarkets lose $15 billion annually in unsold fruits and vegetables alone
  • Restaurants throw out around 10% of the food they purchase

Most people seem to have an inherent understanding of the senselessness and tragedy of wasted food while there is so much need in the world. But what if you knew that every time you threw food away you were contributing to another global problem?

According to the EPA:

  • 14% of the greenhouse gases emitted in the U.S. stem from getting food from the farm to your fork and then to the landfill.
  • Food waste has increased by 50 percent since the 1970s and is now the largest solid waste contributor to landfills.
  • 31 million tons of Americans’ unfinished meals sit in landfills across the country producing methane.
  • It is estimated that if we were to prevent this food waste from either being created or disposed of it would be like taking a quarter of all cars in American off the road.

While the latter might seem a daunting and overwhelming task, preventing food waste is something that companies should be focused on; not just finding an easier or cheaper way of disposal. A real plan addresses strategies on how to prevent the creation of food waste all together.

Companies such as The Cheesecake Factory and Fairway Market have incorporated waste reduction or “zero waste” goals into their long-term targets and with the data available from their Eco-Safe Digester, have also committed to monitor and analyze what is wasted in order to learn more about their potential for greater volumes of prevention and savings.

Reducing and preventing food volume is the highest priority in managing food waste. Detailed and organized data from the Eco-Safe Digester helps to make informed changes that can positively affect food management practices, staffing, operational activities, and cost of goods sold.

Reusing and donating food benefits others rather than sending it to the landfill. The Eco-Safe Digester identifies opportunities for future donations.

Recovering uneaten or expired food for a different use is also a better choice than sending it to a landfill, a method soon to be outlawed in some states. The Eco-Safe Digester can and will eliminate the food waste in a more efficient manner as it converts up to 2,500 pounds of food waste each day into a nutrient-neutral grey water that can be recovered.

Every company’s waste stream is unique, financial and environmental impacts as well as emerging regulatory measures must be considered when designing prevention and diversion goals, but in the end it is good for business, your customers, and the environment to not only divert the waste away from landfills but also to learn how to prevent it all together.

Improving Food Waste Management

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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.