Why Food Waste Should Matter to You
Food waste is a global problem of staggering proportions. In 2021, the World Wildlife Fund reported that the estimated total food loss and waste is over 2.5 billion tons – nearly 40% of all food produced. Greenhouse gas emissions generated by food that goes unconsumed represent 10% of all emissions. 4.4 million KM2 of land is used to grow this unconsumed food, and water equivalent to 304 million Olympic swimming pools was used to produce it. The price tag placed on food loss and waste is estimated to be $1.5 trillion! And yet, as all of this food is lost or wasted each year, over 800 million people are going hungry.
At NEXDINE Hospitality, we take our responsibility as global citizens seriously. And when it comes to the issue of food waste management, we have been aggressively implementing programs that address it.
Identifying Food Waste Management Opportunities
The basic idea behind a food program is that you design menus, purchase what you need, prepare and serve the meals, and then clean up and process what is left over. Each one of these steps provides opportunities to trim waste out of the program.
Fundamentally, our efforts begin with our commitment to 100% fresh ingredients. Large industrial food processing is inherently wasteful. Manufacturers chase low-cost labor and ship ingredients around the globe to be processed and shipped to distributors in the U.S. Inevitably, some of these products expire on shelves before ever reaching the kitchen.
NEXDINE designs menus around fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients that travel short distances to arrive in our kitchens and bypass wasteful manufacturing processes. Our technology tracks actual usage and consumption so that we order exactly what is needed and little goes to waste. We re-purpose trim from vegetables and meats for the stock that flavors our soups and other recipes.
Monitoring, Measuring, Educating
In addition to ordering exactly what is needed, it’s important to get the most out of those ingredients. In your own kitchen, it may seem like a small thing to trim a pepper so that you get the most out of it. In a commercial kitchen, it can make a big difference in terms of food waste.
So, we place clear bins throughout the production area. As our cooks and chefs work, anything that is not used is placed in these clear bins, rather than directly into the trash. Our managers can see what is being cast aside, and where there are opportunities to educate or train our colleagues to improve their processes and reduce waste, these can be acted on immediately.
At the end of the day, we weigh what’s in the bins and record the results to keep awareness of food waste management high, and our commitment to food waste management front of mind.
After the Meal
After the meal has been served, what remains becomes a bigger food waste challenge because options are more limited. The last thing we want to see is food waste going to the landfill where it decomposes, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. So, what are our options?
Our first option is to partner with food rescue organizations. For example, a leftover, unused tray of lasagna might not be suitable for our client’s program, but we can freeze it so that the food rescue organization can pick it up for distribution to those in need.
For the rest of the food waste, sometimes composting is an option. But we are also partnering with farms and other organizations that work with farms to convert the waste to livestock feed. There are even organizations that capture the methane from decomposing food as an alternative to fossil fuels in energy generation.
Benefits of Food Waste Management
As you can see, food waste management requires a lot of effort that spans the entire food production lifecycle. But we believe it is worth the effort because the benefits extend from the global impacts we discussed at the beginning of the article, to reduced costs, more efficient operations, and improved service for our client partners and guests.
More precise purchasing reduces overall food costs. More precise production volumes reduce the cost of labor and utilities involved in food preparation. And reducing food waste reduces the cost of waste removal.
Reduced Environmental Impact
Many organizations have Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals or targets they use to communicate their efforts to customers, partners, and their communities. NEXDINE is supporting the ESG goals of our client partners, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the related degradation of land and water used to produce food that goes to waste.
Of course, there is a real human cost to food waste as well. According to the UN’s World Food Programme, “All the food produced [in the world] but never eaten would be sufficient to feed two billion people. That’s more than twice the number of undernourished people across the globe.”
By reducing food waste, we help our clients leave valuable resources in the food system for those who desperately need them. Ultimately, that’s good for all of us.
To learn more about NEXDINE Hospitality and the refreshing approach to dining management that is reshaping the industry with collaborative, innovative, customized dining programs and the most responsive and passionate team of dining and hospitality professionals, visit www.nexdine.com.