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A Complete Guide On Restaurant Waste Management

Restaurant Waste Management is the need of the hour.

Did you know that almost 30% to 40% of food prepared in a restaurant goes to waste? Did you also know that wastage of food is about to be declared a serious crime in quite a few countries in the world?

A few reasons why food waste occurs in restaurants are:

  • Unidentified demand
  • Overstocking
  • Inefficient production 
  • Poor communication 
  • Staff behaviour 
  • Unskilled trimming 
  • Over-merchandising
  • Shorter Shelf Life or expiry date

Other reasons why the need for restaurant waste management arises are large portion sizes ordered, inefficient service methods, and consumer menu acceptance

The food wasted in a restaurant is not only a waste of ingredients and food products but also a major waste of money. Money, not just of the owner but also of the customer. 

Food wastage is becoming a serious issue and a reality that is hard to ignore.

However, the present generation is a lot more conscious about their choices and is aware of the consequences of waste. They value every grain and are trying to minimize the unnecessary overuse of products.

If you as a restaurant owner/manager are trying to find ways for restaurant waste management, then this blog is for you!

This blog covers:

  • How to manage your inventory
  • How to manage your food portions
  • Food waste reduction tips
  • Ways to manage food waste
  • Benefits of restaurant waste management

How To Carry Out Restaurant Waste Management

Create an in-charge team

The first and foremost step in this process is to create a team which will be responsible for waste management. You can outsource this job to experts or companies who handle waste management. 

Alternatively, you can also form a team from your staff. This will be helpful in not only instilling a sense of responsibility within the team but is also logical since they are the ones who are aware of the waste being generated. 

This will also help in administering accountability for the materials needed, used and wasted. 

For the team, it is recommended that you choose one person from each department in the kitchen. For eg. a server or a manager knows what the diners are ordering and consuming and how much is the on-table generated waste, a chef knows how much ingredients are being used and how much spillage is caused or extra is used or the staff in charge of cleaning and washing equipment knows how much end-waste is generated.

how to train restaurant staff to increase restaurant profit
Creating a team from the staff to oversee wastage in a restaurant is very important.

Identify the type of food wastes

The food waste generated at the restaurant is divided into mainly two types:

  • The food wasted in the kitchen before consumption
  • The food wasted by the diners on their plate

Another type of waste is called organic waste which is the waste that is bound to be generated in the form of peels, roots or leaves, unwanted bones, wrapper and packaging waste and more. 

It is important to identify the type of waste since studies show that almost 4 to 10% of raw food goes to waste. If so, we need to identify the type of waste to be able to plan further action for them.

Track and audit the food wastes

It is important to track and audit how much food has been consumed first and then analyze and audit the waste generated. The data can be collected and analyzed by comparing the number of customers that visited during the day and the waste generated at the end of the day.

This is a key factor in realizing what is the food 

Sort and separate the waste

In order to make food waste cost-effective, it is vital to sort and segregate the waste generated according to the type of waste.

For eg., all the organic waste like peels, seeds, over-ripe items, and expired food items can go into one category. Another category is where the plastics, packaging, wrappers, tin foils, and breakage of any crockery are disposed.

how to separate and manage food waste in restaurants
Waste which can be recycled.

Minimise spillage and wastage of ingredients

There is a huge issue of spillage while preparing food. This is not isolated to restaurant kitchens, it is common across households. 

Therefore, there needs to be a strict rule implemented regarding the non-essential wastage of food. 

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The chefs, their assistants and servers need to be briefed and repeatedly reminded about the importance of minimizing food wastage.

If required, all the necessary personnel involved can undergo training to learn how not to waste ingredients and be able to do work more efficiently.

Re-organise your menu

Oftentimes, the menu of a restaurant is designed to incorporate a variety of food items to attract more customers. While this is a good way to lure customers, it is not feasible in the long run. 

As a restaurant owner or a manager, you are aware of which dishes are most popular among customers from your kitchen and which are not. You can start narrowing your menu according to that and shape up a more concise and effective menu.

This will be helpful in two ways:

  • It will be cost-effective in the manner that it will help you cut down on ordering unnecessary ingredients.
  • It will also help minimise waste from behind-the-counter and on-the-table.

Practice portion control

The concept of offering bigger food portions was started in the West. In order to one-up the competition, restaurants increased the size of food served in one helping the customers while maintaining lower costs.

This technique proved to be very successful and continued without any visible impacts for a long period of time, in fact even till today. 

However, two major side-effects of this practice are showing up now:

  • Obesity is tagged as a major health issue
  • Substantial food waste is generated

The solution to both these problems is reducing the portion size. Restaurant waste management will be much simpler if this practice is adopted since this will mean less usage and wastage of ingredients and less food wasted on the table.

portion control diet limited menu serving in restaurants
Serving the right amount of food helps control wastage and reduce leftovers.

Create awareness amongst your staff

Since food wastage is a world problem affecting economies, a large number of countries have mandated universities to offer courses on waste management. There are several freelancers who offer courses on how to manage wastage specifically from the point of view of restaurants. 

Ensure each member of your staff undergoes training and understands the importance of restaurant waste management and the correct way to practice it.

Strategize on what to do with the leftovers

Leftovers can be of two types:

  • First, prepared food but not served
  • Second, served but wholly or partially untouched food

Instead of discarding the food and dumping it in a dustbin, you can do something different with it. 

If the prepared food hasn’t gone bad, the restaurant can donate it to the homeless or to the unfortunate. You can hold a drive after hours and serve it to the needy.

Customers can be encouraged to take the leftovers on the table home with them instead of letting them go to waste.

Composting & Recycling Food Waste

This is the most important step in the Restaurant Waste Management process.  There are different ways in which food waste can be recycled:

food waste management techniques
Composting and recycling are two main ways of restaurant waste management.

Separating Food Waste

Keep separate bins for different types of waste generated. Organic food waste can be composted and nutritious manure can be generated from it. This serves as a soil conditioner

Plastic and glass, which are inorganic waste, can be reused and recycled.


The food waste generated can be recycled naturally by composting. Composting involves burying waste such as peels, roots, leaves and other food scraps directly into the soil. Other methods of composting include accumulating such waste in a pit for a longer period of time and then immersing it or putting the waste into a composting machine which then processes and churns out compost which can be converted into manure.


Combusting involves the incineration of food waste. Through combusting, all the waste is rid of the toxicity and what remains is a by-product which is nutritious for crops.


Landfills are large areas of open land which are used for dumping waste. Restaurants can designate an unused area, not surrounded by habitation, and can convert it into a sanitary landfill. However, this method is the least recommended since it involves toxic waste and gases penetrating the ground as well as the environment.

Benefits Of Reducing Waste

Restaurant waste management is beneficial in ways that you might not even expect.

  • Reducing costs, increasing revenue
  • Creating a positive impact on the environment
  • Boosting employees’ morale
  • Creating a positive restaurant image
  • Improving food service practices
  • Reducing the impact of usage on your equipment
recycle food waste
By reducing waste, restaurants save both food as well as money.

Petpooja supports and encourages positive practices which are environment friendly and help reduce waste. For more information and tips, please follow us on Instagram!

Shanaya Udeshi
Shanaya Udeshi
From being a practicing lawyer to a writer, the only thing that has remained constant about me over the years is my love for food. I talk food, dream food and now even write about food!


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