Reducing Restaurant Food Waste

Globally of all food produced is wasted every year which translates to a cost of €1,1 trillion. Food is lost all throughout the value chain and restaurants are accountable for 33% of food wasted. This has a significant toll on the environment and also on restaurants as businesses. On average, the cost of avoidable food waste at restaurants is €1,10 per meal.

Here are some tips to reduce food waste and make your restaurant more sustainable.

Food Waste Prevention

Track your food waste

The most important step to start focusing on reducing food waste at your restaurant is to identify how much and which food is in fact wasted. Counting and weighing your food waste will give you an idea of how much food waste costs for your business. It is important to count your inventory and how much of it is wasted so you can find out how to solve the issues which lead to throwing away food at your restaurant. 

Identifying the type of food waste

Pre-consumer waste is food wasted which doesn’t leave the kitchen such as vegetable peels which is unavoidable. However, pre-consumer waste also includes rotten ingredients which can be avoided through an improved storage system. 

Post-consumer waste is food wasted after it has reached the consumer. This includes leftovers which are not eaten which is usually caused by over-portioning. Through portion control, you can prevent wasting food and by serving smaller portions, or giving the option of ordering different portion sizes, more ingredients will be available for you to cook more dishes with the ingredients you already have. 

Analyse your menu

Another reason your restaurant could be wasting large amounts of food is your menu. If you notice that certain dishes often come back to the kitchen with a lot of leftover food, it might be worth removing it from the menu.

Try to incorporate the same ingredients in several dishes on your menu so that you reduce the variety of ingredients you have to buy and in order to be able to use leftover ingredients for different dishes.

Store food correctly

In order to reduce pre-consumer waste it is important to make sure you are storing your ingredients correctly and at the right temperatures. About 21% of restaurant food waste is spoiled food. A stock rotation system FIFO – First In, First Out – prevents food going bad. It ensures that the newer stock is placed behind older stock, and older stock is picked first when used. 

Read more about storing food.

Digitise your restaurant inventory management

If you feel like you are spending time and money managing delivery control, inventory, expiration dates, price variations, stock count and reporting and you waste a lot of food, consider digitising your restaurant inventory management system. 

With TotalCtrl restaurant software you can:

  • save time
  • gain control
  • improve efficiency
  • boost profitability
  • enhance your brand image

What to do with your food waste

Although you may already follow all of these tips in order to reduce food waste at your restaurant, some food waste is unavoidable. Here are some of the best ways to deal with your food waste.

Pack up leftovers for customers

Around 34% of restaurant food waste is food left over on the customers’ plates. Offer to pack up leftover food for your customers and make ‘doggy bags’ a routine at your restaurant. Then you will not have to deal with the waste.


Work with a responsible food waste management company. This way, the waste will end up being recycled and not end up on a landfill. This is better for the environment as the waste is dealt with organically. 

Donate leftovers

If you have leftover ingredients that may not be edible by the next time you are able to cook with it, consider donating it to local charities so it does not go to waste. 

Invest in a food waste processor

There are many different types of food waste processors. One of them is a food waste tank which is a tank you can place in your restaurant. It deals with food waste in a sustainable way. Food waste tanks grind and decompose food and retain the energy and biogas released in the process of decomposition. 


  • Fully automatic operation
  • Electronic reporting system 
  • Hygienic – confines odors and contaminants
  • Saves space – eliminates temporary waste storage in kitchens
  • Cost efficient
  • Reduced need for food waste collection service
  • Retains energy and biogas

Waste-to-energy process

Food waste tanks can serve as a waste-to-energy process as the biogas naturally produced during the decomposition of food waste can be used to generate energy. Biogas is an environmentally friendly source of energy production as it reduces the release of dangerous levels of methane and reduces the reliance on fossil fuels for energy. Biogas can be used as an energy source in your restaurant. This can save money and make use of food waste. 

There are many ways to prevent and reduce restaurant food waste and these were just a few. Food is wasted all throughout the value chain with restaurants being responsible for a significant amount of it. Help protect the environment and your business through implementing some of our suggestions.

Read more about food waste. 

Read more about turning food waste into cash.

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