The best practices to reduce waste at your restaurant

August 7, 2019


A study has shown that “About 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted globally each year, and around 40% of that comes from restaurants.”. Waste at restaurants is not limited to food since restaurants may waste other products like napkins and plastic.

In order to save money at your restaurant, you shall consider reducing waste. In this article, you will find some ways that will help you to reduce waste at your restaurant.


What are the benefits of reducing waste?

  • Generating fewer food costs and more revenue.
  • Creating a positive image of your restaurant.
  • Enhancing your foodservice practices.
  • Developing your equipment.
  • Improving employee morale.
  • Being good to the environment.


Here are 8 practices to reduce waste at your restaurant:

1. Implement products that can be reused:

Avoid placing napkin dispensers on tables or handing guests five napkins when they need three. Alternatively, you may use napkins that can be washed and reused. You shall also consider using washable tablecloths, not the paper ones. As for menus, paper menus can be easily stained and you constantly need to throw them away. Instead, consider having digital menus or covering them so that you will be able to use them again. You are also able to reuse plastic bottles, cans, cardboard boxes, and wooden pallets.


2. Do not over-buy products:

Have a strict strategy to manage your inventory. Buy only what you need and what you know you will use before being spoiled. Although deals and offers might be tempting, buying extra products will leave you with more staff than you need, resulting in losing money.


3. Deal wisely with leftovers:

You have many options when dealing with leftovers. On one hand, you may donate leftovers to charities, however, you shall ensure that the food is healthy and in good shape. On the other hand, you may ask customers whether they want to take their leftover food- which can be packaged- home with them in a take-away box. You may also consider giving uneaten leftovers for your employees where you can reduce food waste and increase employee satisfaction and loyalty.


4. Pay attention to perishable products:

Food spoilage is the first cause of waste. You should track your inventory so that perishable products must be used quickly since farm-to-table fruits and vegetables have a short shelf life comparing to the products with preservatives.


5. Control your water usage:

Restaurants shall adhere to strict techniques to conserve water in order to be part of the global quest to save water.


6. Control portions:

Oversized food portions and jumbo side dishes are major causes of food waste. People tend to leave food at the end of their meals such as French fries because they consider fries, vegetables, and salads as an extra portion of their main meal.

You can control portions by:

  1. Pointing out the restaurant menu items that usually have the most leftovers, then you shall reduce the portion size of these menu items.
  2. Using smaller plates and glasses.
  3. Giving customers more menu options so that they order what they are willing to eat. Salads and fries need not be parts of the meal. Make them apart from the “side dishes”.


7. Waste Recycling and composting:

Find an opportunity to make a contract with a local company that may buy and recycle your waste. This will increase your profit since you will earn money from your waste and they will transport your waste for free. Every waste type has a different way to be recycled such as:

  • Used cooking oil:

It is not safe to pour the used cooking oil down the kitchen sink or dump it in a container in garbage bags. Used cooking oil can be recycled into biodiesel and other industrial products which results in lessening carbon emissions and creating a smaller carbon footprint.

  • Food waste:

As food waste is organic, it can be completely recycled. You can give it to farmers to compost their lands if you don’t have your own.


8. Train your employees:

Implement a training program to educate your staff about the practices they should adopt to reduce waste. Have them share your vision and your goals. Ask for their feedback and listen to their concerns.


In your pursuit of waste reduction, ensure that you have a food waste management plan that clarifies your goals which will make it easier for you to take action to accomplish these goals. Additionally, consider installing a POS with detailed inventory tracking to control your inventory.