Reduce Kitchen Waste by Raising Awareness
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That’s why it’s so important to create opportunities that raise awareness about how much kitchen waste, aka pre-consumer waste, your staff is actually creating, and to use those opportunities to train them on ways reduce that amount.
One free, simple tool that always gets staff to engage in the pre-consumer waste conversation is our Waste Watchers tracker.
How to use the Waste Watchers tracker
1. Use the first row to track all of your pre-consumer waste, by weight or number of portions (just be consistent), for all seven days of the week. Total up the row and write it in the last column. This is your baseline.
2. Set a reduction goal with your team for how much you want to cut that total every week (or every two weeks, or whatever recurring time frame is manageable with your team). Example: We want to reduce our total waste by 5% each week.
3. Print another copy of this log form and ask your staff to track each day’s waste. You may want to print multiple copies for placement in multiple areas where waste occurs (i.e. one for serving staff and one for the kitchen line).
- Note the date and record the amount of pre-consumer waste before it’s discarded in the trash, compost or garbage disposal.
- Be sure to keep the measurement consistent with your baseline—either weight or number of portions.
4. At the end of each shift or day, collect all of the log forms, total them up for the day and add the results to the appropriate cell in your master tracker (the one with your baseline).
5. Regularly review the results with your team, either daily or weekly, and brainstorm realistic solutions to continue cutting your waste rate. Use these conversations as a training opportunities when appropriate. Consider refreshers on:
- Standardized recipes
- Correct recipe scaling
- Produce-trimming techniques
- Proper produce storage guidelines
- Ways to repurpose or reuse peels, scraps and leftovers
6. If your team hits a weekly goal, reward them! Try a pizza party, ice cream sundae extravaganza or popcorn palooza. If they hit all of their weekly goals, make it a bigger event. Also consider prizes, like coffee shop gift cards and tickets to the movies to keep them motivated.
7. Repeat this tracking game 2-4 times throughout the year to keep your team focused on pre-consumer waste reduction.
8. Share your success with your leadership team and the community. Consider posting progress or results on social media and talking about it in relation to your company’s sustainability efforts.