Waste Management and Hidden Costs
Waste management is a fact of life for any restaurant kitchen. Whether you see it as a nuisance, hassle, or cost, dealing with the waste output from leftovers, trimmings, and trash is a constant endeavor. With many types of disposal methods, there are hidden costs associated that are sometimes overlooked. These costs can slowly nick away at your bottom line, shrinking the already too small margin of profit. Take a look at your waste management plan and we’ll uncover some of the hidden costs you may be missing!
Waste management is the "generation, prevention, characterization, monitoring, treatment, handling, reuse and residual disposition of solid wastes". While the generation of this waste is typically an easy accomplishment, the rest of your waste management plan may be haphazard, at best.
Prevention: Reduction in waste is one of the easiest ways to lessen the burden of cost in waste disposal, so investing some serious effort in waste prevention can save you a pretty penny! Find ways to reduce scraps in the kitchen by training staff on how to cut items for optimal usage. Also, ensure that your cooks are trained properly to prevent over-cooked meals bound for the scrap heap. At the same time, try to purchase items in bulk to decrease the amount of individually-packed items. Sustainable Foodservice notes: ‘Food packaging makes up most of the remaining weight of the garbage's bins, but account for around 70% of the volume of foodservice trash. ‘
Characterization: Waste is a term that describes a multitude of items, and many of the items typically included in your waste disposal can be characterized under a different title! In fact, 75% of material in today's landfill is recyclable or compostable, while 50-70% of the weight of a foodservice operation's garbage consists of compostable food items.
Monitoring: You can really only know if your efforts are well-founded if you’re monitoring your waste disposal costs. Keep records of the amount of waste your restaurant accumulates either through disposal cost or bulk weight and see if it correlates with changes in season, menu items, employees, or any other factor.
Treatment and Handling: These two aspects go hand-in-hand with characterization. Ensure that your restaurant takes the time to recycle as well as compost or use a garbage disposer when necessary. These different handling methods can chisel away the cost of waste disposal!
Reuse: Do you have leftover bread? Consider reusing it for croutons! Finding ways to reuse when possible helps keep usable food items out of your waste pile (and out of your disposal costs).
In the end, you’ll probably still have some disposal costs. Take the time to constantly audit and negotiate with your waste disposer when you can. Implement simple, structured practices and enforce them consistently to reduce your disposal cost by at least half!
E Friedman Associates