Did you know that 30-40% of all food produced is wasted in the United States? That’s around 133 billion pounds of food totaling around $161 billion, and yet, 1 in 8 people are hungry. While those numbers can be shocking, there is something both consumers and businesses can do. Consumers should be more aware of which businesses are practicing waste reducing strategies as well as taking action on their own. But the real pressure should be on companies to constantly innovate their processes in order to reduce their waste as much as possible.
Here are just a few companies that are taking steps in the right direction in the battle against food waste.
Do you have a favorite company who is doing the right thing to reduce food waste? Maybe you work for a company and you are proud of what they are doing to reduce organic waste. We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to add these companies in the comments.
Kroger is a grocery chain committed to ending all company-wide food waste by 2025. Any food that they are unable to use or donate is turned into renewable energy through anaerobic digestion. They also started the, “Wilted to Wonderful,” series to teach people recipes they can use in their own home to reduce food waste. They plan on continuing their efforts in the hope that they will be able to donate 3 billion balanced meals, not just food, by 2025.
Virgin Voyages is a new, all-inclusive cruise line setting sail in 2020. In addition to other eco-friendly initiatives, they also have some really great ideas in terms of handling their organic waste. Firstly, you won’t find any buffets on board. They did this in order to combat the regular amounts of food waste buffets tend to produce. In addition to their, “front of house” efforts, they partnered with a Norweigan company, Scanship, in order to produce a system that converts organic waste into clean energy.
Rude Food is a Swedish based catering business with a unique twist: they take surplus food from other businesses and re-purpose them into meals. They purchase things like misshapen produce, mislabeled food or even bread that isn’t technically “fresh” by industry standards because it was baked a day ago. Basically, they take any food that is cheaper for the business to just throw away than to try to sell to their customers. It is important to note that Rude Food can’t accept food from sources that don’t fall in accordance with food safety standards, so you can rest assured you will get safe and delicious food every time.
Sierra Nevada is a California based brewery with a very eco-friendly stance. In 2010, they purchased an in-house composter and have since composted over 2,300,000 pounds of waste. That means 3,700 usable yards of compost. Not only that, but their model is a closed system. So all of the compost produced goes right back to their crops. All of the organic material that is unable to be composted is donated to local farms for cattle to feed on so that not a single pound of organic material has to go to a landfill.
Google has made several simple, yet effective strides towards reducing their food waste. For starters, they changed up their trash to a “4-stream” system. This means they have separate bins for paper, recyclables, compostables and landfill items. They also trained the staff on the importance of proper disposal of waste. In addition, they used clear signage to inform workers about their waste and where it goes/should go. Their food prep staff was also trained on strategies to minimize food waste. For example, cutting their fish differently to get more usable meat. Lastly, they partnered with LeanPath in order to create a program to physically track their food waste within the company.
In order to keep their stock looking full, Panera makes more baked goods than what their projections say they will need. That could mean a ton of food waste. Thankfully, instead of just throwing it away, they donate it as part of their, “Day-end Dough-Nation,” program. They also partnered with Chittendedn Solid Waste District to conduct company wide waste audits. This audit showed what materials they wasted most of and whether they waste more in the front or the back of the house. They now use an electronic system to gauge food prep for any given day.
Food waste is a huge problem, but it doesn’t have to be. If companies are held responsible to practice more sustainable efforts, it will be easier for the consumer overall to purchase the most eco-friendly products. That, in addition to the everyday efforts you can make, can help to end this war on food waste once and for all.