Reducing Restaurant Waste

Restaurants operators are very clear in how much they value food as a resource, and a point of pride in their business. After all, food is your business, not your garbage. 

Reduce tips

  • Measure and manage. Spend time assessing how much and what kind of waste is being produced. Use this tool from the US EPA to track your waste (Environmental Protection Agency)
  • Review stock management and food delivery processes for food items with a short shelf life. This can be a simple way to reduce spoilage waste.
  • Reduce over-purchasing of food - Create guidelines or implement a system to ensure that you only purchase what you need when you need it.
  • Reduce Food Spoilage, food products should be stored in proper condition (e.g. temperature) and organized easily. Track inventory levels and ensure that older products are used first.
  • Review research from the US EPA, the Australian Environmental Protection Authority, and WRAP UK for ideas to help your business.

Redirect tips

  • Start with canned and dry packaged foods, such as soups or sauce bases.
  • The most desired items are often leftover dishes that are prepared, kept hot and can be easily chilled or frozen for reheating. Be sure to manage temperature, handling and storage times for these items as you would for your own customers.
  • If operating a buffet, consider keeping some food back and fill serving trays as needed. Un-plated healthy food can be donated.
  • Connect with charitable food donation organizations in your area in advance to determine their needs and capacity for your potential donation fit foods
  • Find some local agencies in the Closing the Loop guide. Examples include; Food Bank Canada, local soup kitchens such as the Salvation Army or Union Gospel Mission, and not-for-profit food redistributors such as Quest.

NEW Industry Food Donation Guidelines now available on the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website here:  (click the “Donation Guidelines” tab and scroll to “Industry Food Donation Guidelines”)

The BC Centre for Disease Control (the Provincial authority on donating food), in partnership with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Food Banks BC and Metro Vancouver, published the Industry Food Donation Guidelines to encourage donations of safe, healthy food to local food banks and charities. The Guidelines help business owners, managers or other decision makers answer these questions:

  • Why donate food?
  • How to start and manage a food donation program? – step by step guide
  • What foods are suitable for donation?
  • What about risk and liability?