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How to Cut Down on Restaurant Waste: Glass Bottle Recycling, Food Recycling and More

Waste management recycling is a huge element of running a restaurant or food service. without streamlined processes and carefully considered waste plans, you’ll be wasting a lot of money and negatively impacting the trend toward more environmentally friendly hospitality waste management. The good thing is that a lot of the best steps to take are quick, easy and very cost-effective.

From better managing your food storage to reconsidering how you deal with food waste, here are some steps you can take:

Waste Management Recycling

The first and most obvious thing to think about is how you can better recycle your waste.

Food Recycling: Food waste should never be put in the general waste bin and sent to landfills. Some alternatives will be discussed later in this blog because there’s a surprising amount of food recycling options available and they’ll all help you to reduce your restaurant’s waste.

Glass Bottle Recycling: A lot of drinks are sold in restaurants which results in a lot of glass bottles being thrown away. A really simple way to improve your restaurant’s waste system is to implement glass bottle recycling. This is really important because, as a material, glass is 100% recyclable.

Card Recycling: Card is one of the materials that often gets put into the general waste section of a restaurant’s waste systems. This is likely because most packaging and delivery materials include card. Some shops and restaurants use compacting machines where you can squeeze large amounts of card and paper into a more manageable form factor.

A good way to achieve these recycling goals is to have a designated area for waste separation in or by the kitchen. Clearly designate the relevant waste bins so there can be no confusion and consider training your staff so they understand the importance of proper recycling procedures.

Storing Food Correctly

An important but often overlooked step is to rethink how you store your food. The methods, if any, that you currently use could be losing you money and causing more waste than needs to be thrown away.

Detailed Inventories: The first thing you’ll want to do is to ensure that you know exactly what you have in storage because, otherwise, you’ll forget about some stock and it’ll eventually go to waste. Having a weekly or fortnightly inventory check won’t take too long but it will make sure that all of your products are used. With current technology, this can be done via an excel spreadsheet. Not only will it ensure that you reduce your restaurant’s unnecessary waste but this will also save you money.

Use-By Dates: By taking detailed inventories, you’ll also have a much better understanding of what food is coming near to its use-by date. These products can then be prioritised, perhaps via a special offer, so that it doesn’t get needlessly thrown away. It may be a tad time consuming to begin with but as the process is repeated, it becomes easier and quicker to complete. It’s also worth noting that, particularly for perishables, leaving out-of-date food can accelerate the decomposition of other fresh foods that are stored nearby.

Stock Rotation: Taking detailed inventories and understanding use-by dates will then allow you to rotate your stock with the future in mind. As you phase out of your less organised stock for the first month or two, you can then start to rotate your stock in more of a pre-emptive manner. This can result in significant savings as you can pair products that have similar dates and you can also buy stock for further in the future, potentially getting them at a cheaper price in the off-season. This is particularly the case for tinned goods and dry foods.

Temperature Control: A core factor for storing foods correctly is controlling temperatures in an effective manner. You should first check all the joints and sealants in freezer rooms and stock rooms to make sure their temperatures are being retained. You’ll then want to make sure that staff keep the doors closed and you may want to install some insulation blinds as a secondary measure. If temperature control is an area your restaurant especially lacks in then you can conduct regular checks that take a couple of minutes to complete but which will help to ensure your stock lasts.


Anticipate Demand Levels: A misconception for restaurant kitchens is that cooking in batch saves money overall. Whilst it’s true that this saves time and is a more efficient way to serve large amounts of customers, depending on the demand for the dish, it could lead to increased food wastage which costs your business money. Similarly, adjusting to the seasons and the rise and fall of demand will allow you to buy the stock at cheaper prices and limit the amount you buy accordingly.

Check Deliveries: It’s also important that you check if providers are delivering the correct amount of stock. Any mistakes could mean that you can’t serve a dish and this could lead to the other ingredients being wasted. On the other hand, it could also mean that you get more stock than you had intended which would mean increased wastage.

Portion Control: You should also think about your portion levels and whether they’re proportionate. For example, if customers are frequently throwing away a side salad or some of the chips then gradually reduce the amount you serve, so long as it doesn’t result in complaints. It can be a bit of a trial by error process but it’ll pay off in the long run as you’ll save on food wastage as well as costs.

Alternatives for Food Waste

Compost: Composting is an obvious option and that’s because it’s the most natural and effective. Most food decomposes quickly and can be used to help grow fruit and vegetables. It’s a hassle-free method of food recycling that has been used for thousands of years!

Reuse: Leftovers can be very versatile in the kitchen and should be used to create other ingredients and dishes. Here are some ideas:

  • Animal bones can be used to create stock
  • Vegetable trimmings and peels can be used in a soup
  • Bread that’s a bit too old to serve can be kept and used as croutons or breadcrumbs
  • Cheese rinds can add flavour to risotto, soup and stew.

The key is to think of excess not as ‘leftovers’ but as ‘ingredients’ instead and when you do this you’ll be surprised by what you can come up with.

Charity Donations: With foodbank usage and homeless rates increasing, a great option is to donate any significant leftover foods to charities that can put these to good use. A good example is FareShare whose 18 branches distribute food to over 10,500 frontline charities. Otherwise, there will likely be a local food bank or charity that will be more than happy to receive foods that would otherwise be thrown away.

‘Doggy Bags’: The charitable organisation Waste & Resources Action Programme has calculated that roughly 34% of the food industry’s food waste is down to customer leftovers. A simple solution to this problem is to ask customers if they wish to take their leftovers home with them. After all, if the leftovers are only going to be thrown away then they might as well!

Use a Local Commercial Waste Recycling Centre

A great option is to use a local waste management service such as Devon Contract Waste. Recognising the importance of effective waste management recycling, we have a Zero to Landfill goal and can provide you with waste bins to help meet this goal. Whether it’s for glass bottle recycling, card and paper or food recycling, we have services that can help you and your business.

If you have any further questions about how to improve your restaurant’s waste management recycling or would like to try our services then don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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