Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging:
A Guide for Food Services and
United States Environmental Protection Agency

The information contained on these pages is intended to inform the public and does not establish or affect legal
rights or obligations. This applies to all       in the Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging: A. Guide for Food Services
and Restaurants. Links to non-EPA sites do not imply any official EPA endorsement of, or responsibility for, the
opinions, ideas, data or products presented at those locations, or guarantee the validity of the information provided.

Reference to any specific commercial products, process or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or
otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United
Sfafes Government and shall not be used for  advertising or product endorsement purposes.


Introduction	I
  Why Reduce Wasted Food and Packaging?	I
  Ways to Reduce Wasted Food and Packaging	3
Food and Packaging Waste Reduction: Strategy Checklist	4
Step One To Reducing Your Waste: Tracking and Assessing	5
  How Does EPA's Free  Tool on Food and Packaging Waste Prevention Work?	5
  Steps to Using the Tool	6
What is Source Reduction	7
Wasted Food Reduction Strategies	8
  Source Reduction Strategies	8
  Case Studies	10
  Turn Source Reduction Strategies into Action!	10
Feed  Hungry People / Feed Animals	II
  Feed People, Not Landfills: Food Donation	II
  Feed Animals	II
  Case Studies	12
Industrial Uses/Composting	13
  Industrial Uses	13
  Composting	13
  Anaerobic Digestion	13
  Case Studies	14
  Turn Waste Diversion Strategies into Action!	15
Packaging Reduction Strategies	16
  Definition and Benefits of Packaging Reduction Strategies	16
  Strategies for  Reducing Packaging	16
  Case Studies	18
  Turn Packaging Reduction Strategies into Action!	18
Disposal	19
  Disposal Strategy	19
  Case Studies	19

 This toolkit is designed to:
 Help food service establishments and
 commercial kitchens save money by
 reducing wasted food  and packaging with
 suggested strategies, templates and case
Why  Reduce Wasted Food

and Packaging?

Together, food and packaging/containers account for almost 45%
of the materials landfilled in the United States, and some of these
discarded materials are food-related packaging and containers.  To
reduce food reaching landfills, save money, and help communities, the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency started the Food Recovery
Challenge.  The Challenge is part of EPA's Sustainable Materials
Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental
impact of materials through their entire life cycle.

Food service establishments generate a significant amount of wasted
food and packaging. Between 4 and 10 percent of food purchased by
food service operations in the U.S. is thrown out before reaching the
plate.1 By reducing the amount of food and packaging discarded, they
can significantly reduce their waste stream and save money.

Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food  and Packaging

   Save money by reducing over-purchasing and
   disposal costs
   Reduce environmental impacts
   Support efforts to eliminate hunger
   Reduce health and odor concerns with food disposal
   Support community waste reduction efforts
   Increase tax benefits by donating food
Did you know that...
In 2010, over 33 million tons of food reached landfills in the
U.S. - equivalent to half a pound per person per day - or
enough food to fill the Rose Bowl Stadium every day.

(Bloom. 2010. American Wasteland, [This
link is for informational purposes only and does not imply endorsement by EPA.]
1 LeanPath, [This link
is for informational purposes only and does not imply endorsement by

                                       Saving Food  Saves  Money
Reasons  to Reduce Wasted Food

Reason I: Wasting food costs money
Wasted food  costs the commercial food service industry
roughly $100  billion annually.2 Reducing wasted food and
packaging can save money by reducing not only disposal
costs but also over-purchasing,  labor, and energy costs.
Additionally, food service establishments can receive tax
benefits from donating wholesome, edible food to food
banks or food rescue organizations.

Reason 2: Wasting food is unnecessary
Not all food that reaches landfills is inedible.
Wasted food  can be divided into three categories:
Avoidable: Food that can be easily prevented from going
to waste. Reasons for waste include overpreparation,
improper storage, or spoilage. Understanding the cause of
this waste is key to preventing it. Example: An entire tray of
lasagna is left over every day at a  buffet.
Possibly avoidable: Food that may seem inedible but can
be used or repurposed. Example: Beet tops can be cooked
similarly to collard greens or spinach instead of discarded. Also,
slightly stale bread can be used for croutons or bread crumbs.
Unavoidable: Food that cannot be consumed by people
and should be used for animal feed, compost, or anaerobic
digestion. Example: Banana peels and peach pits.
2 Bloom. 2010. American Wasteland, www.americanwastelandbook.
com. [This link is for informational purposes only and does not imply
endorsement by EPA.]
3 Hall et al. 2009. "The Progressive Increase of food waste in America
and its environmental impacts."
4 U.S. EPA -
Reason 3: Wasting food has environmental impacts
Unprecedented amounts of food are wasted in the
United States. In fact, more food reaches landfills and
incinerators than any other single component of municipal
solid waste (MSW). In 2010 alone, more than 34 million
tons of wasted food were generated, with a meager three
percent of this diverted from landfills and incinerators to
composting (see Figure I). The damaging environmental
effects of wasted food start with food rotting in landfills,
which releases methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) 21
times more potent than carbon dioxide. Thirteen  percent
of GHG emissions in the United States result from the
growth, manufacturing, sale, transportation, and disposal
of food. Additionally, large amounts of water and other
resources are needed to grow and process food. More
than a quarter of the total freshwater consumption per
year in the United States is used to grow wasted food.3
Reducing discarded food avoids wasting the water, oil,
and other natural resources that go into growing and
delivering food.4
   Figure  I. Percent of Total Waste Generation and
         Disposal of Municipal Solid Waste in
                   the U.S. in 2010
               TEXTILES   RUBBERS
                                                                                   Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging  2

Reasons to Reduce
Wasted  Packaging
Containers and packaging alone contribute over 23% of
the material reaching landfills in the U.S., and some of
these discarded materials are food-related containers and
packaging. Additionally, packaging makes up a majority
of the litter that ends up on our beaches and other
waterways. This is a problem because fish, birds, and
other aquatic wildlife are often harmed by ingesting plastic
bags and other debris from packaging. Waste in the ocean
also causes navigation hazards for boats and results in
losses to the shipping, fishing, and tourism industries.

Did you know that...
Eliminating packaging can conserve energy and reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. You can calculate the
greenhouse gas impacts of  reducing,  recycling, and
composting your organization's  packaging using EPA's
Waste Reduction Model (WARM) at
Ways to Reduce Wasted

Food  and  Packaging

The Food Recovery Hierarchy (see Figure 2) identifies the
preferred options for handling excess food. Listed in order
from the most preferred (source reduction) to the least
preferred (landfilling/incineration), these activities help
reduce the environmental impact of wasting food.
Similar to the Food Recovery Hierarchy, the three main
packaging reduction strategies are:
I.   Source reduction or preventing waste before it is
2.   Reuse; and
3.   Recycling/Composting.
                                      Figure 2. Food Recovery Hierarchy
                              Food  Recovery Hierarchy

                                             Create a nutrient-rich
                                               soil amendment
                                             . Incineration.
                                              L Last resort to ,'
3  Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging

Reducing  Wasted   Food  and  Packaging:
Strategy  Checklist
This checklist identifies common strategies that can be used by food service establishments to reduce their wasted food and
packaging. Some strategies are applicable for all types of food service establishments and others are specific to certain venue
types. Choose strategies based on the opportunities that exist at your facility. Tracking food waste is always the first step.
All Food Service Venues
 D  Conduct a wasted food and packaging assessment
    using the EPA's Food and Packaging Waste
    Prevention Tool or another waste tracking tool
 D  Adjust food purchasing policies to reduce excess
    food purchasing
 D  Use just-in-time purchasing software to reduce
    unnecessary purchasing
 D  Adjust menus  to reduce frequently uneaten or
    wasted items
 D  Train staff to reduce prep waste and improper
    cooking (for example, refine knife skills to have
    more efficient food preparation)
 D  Modify food preparation methods to minimize
    waste (for example, heat soups or prepare food in
    smaller portions)
 D  Store food properly to reduce spoilage
 D  Use reusable service ware instead of disposable
    service ware
 D  Purchase items in bulk to reduce packaging
 D  Donate excess food

 D  Identify which  buffet items are regularly wasted
    and reduce the quantity of those items prepared
 D  Implement tray-less system
 D  Reduce serving utensil size

 D  Repurpose leftover kitchen food following
    food safety guidelines (for example, reuse day-old
    bread for croutons or leftover vegetables as
    a pizza topping)
 D  Identify which grab-and-go items are not regularly
    being purchased and reduce the quantity of those
    items prepared
 D  Reduce to-go item packaging
 D  Use packaging that is compostable or recyclable
      Find out what can be recycled and composted in
      your area. Note that some compostable packaging
      on the market today is not suitable for backyard
      Work with your local government to expand recy-
      cling and composting services.

 D  Identify which menu items are being wasted on a
    regular basis and reduce the quantity or portions of
    those items prepared
 D  Repurpose leftover kitchen food following
    food safety guidelines (for example, reuse day-old
    bread for croutons or leftover vegetables as
    a pizza topping)

Quick Service
 D  Use recyclable or compostable packaging

      Find out what can be recycled and composted in
      your area. Note that some compostable packaging
      on the market today is not suitable for backyard
      Work with your local government to expand recy-
      cling and composting services.
                    Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging  4

Step  One  To  Reducing Your Waste:
Tracking  and  Assessing
The first step in reducing waste is to measure and
track the amount, type of. and reason for the food and
packaging being discarded. A thorough food and packaging
assessment serves as the foundation for reduction efforts.
It is important to understand more than simply the quantity
of total waste generated to create targeted and successful
interventions that reduce wasted food and packaging.
Information on the waste type (for example, bell peppers
or chicken breast) and reason for loss (for example,
overpreparation or improper cooking) is important to make
meaningful changes. Additionally, tracking when the material
is generated can also provide useful information to target
specific causes for wasted food and packaging.
A variety of auditing methods and tools can be used to
determine how much, when, and why wasted food and
packaging is being generated. Food waste tracking options

EPA's Food and Packaging Waste Prevention Tool

 * Free
  Tracks both wasted food and packaging
  Mixture of daily paper tracking and a spreadsheet
   that automatically generates graphs and data summary
   based on inputs

Paper Logs
  Tracks both wasted food and packaging
  Requires effort to identify patterns of how much and
   why waste is  being generated

Automated Tracking Systems
  Tracks only wasted food
  Uses software and hardware to easily track wasted
   food and identify patterns of waste generation
How Does  EPA's Food

and  Packaging Waste

Prevention Tool  Work?

This tool is available to help measure and categorize both
wasted food and packaging.

Types of waste tracked:
    Kitchen (Back-of-the-House)
    Plate (Front-of-the-House)
It can help measure:
    Amounts and types of wasted food and related
    Primary causes of waste generation; and
    Patterns of waste generation (through automatically
    generated graphs and summary data).
5 Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging

Steps to  Using  the Tool
          General  Information - Fill out basics of operation
                Data Collection  Collect daily food and packaging discards via paper tracking
          Data Entry  Enter data collected on paper into spreadsheet
                Anal/Sis  Identify patterns and quantity (Graphs and Summary Data automatically
The Food  and Packaging Waste Prevention Tool allows flexibility for the user to track waste generated at varying levels
of detail (e.g., protein vs. steak, chicken, pork chop) depending on available resources and goals of the assessment. More
information on how to use the Food and Packaging Waste Prevention Tool and how to adapt the tool can be found on the
EPA website.
              Table  I: Tracking Example: Results from the Food and Packaging Waste Prevention Tool
                                        (weekly pounds of wasted food)
,.._.... _ ... Improperly Stored Food . ,  , , Food Sent Back by
Kitchen Food Waste Prep Waste /T , , _ . . Arrived Spoiled _ '
Cooked Expired Customer
Fruit and Vegetables
Background: This example shows wasted food type with respect to why the food was discarded. This information would be
automatically generated in the Summary Data portion of the tool after data entry.
Tracking Analysis: The results in Table I  show that there is more expired stored protein generated than any other category
and that there is a significant amount of fruit and vegetables arriving spoiled.
Solutions: If these are consistent trends, the ordering manager should purchase less protein so that it doesn't spoil and work
with the produce supplier to ensure that produce arrives fresh or, if needed, change suppliers.

After tracking and assessing your waste, appropriate strategies can be implemented to save money and reduce waste and its environ-
mental impacts. The following pages outline these strategies in hierarchal order to help achieve the best results.
                                                                                 Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging  6

What  is  Source  Reduction?
Source reduction, or waste prevention, is the most
effective way of reducing the environmental impact of
wasted food and packaging because it prevents unneeded
materials from ever being created. Waste prevention saves
the most money by reducing purchasing costs, handling
costs, and disposal fees!
Benefits include:
   Cost savings by avoiding the purchase and disposal of
    unneeded food and packaging products; and
   Reduced environmental impacts over the lifecycle of a
    product associated with:
        Food and packaging production (including
        fertilizer and pesticide use, water pollution,
        air pollution, energy use, and greenhouse gas
        Transport of food and waste products (including
        energy use, air pollution, and greenhouse gas
        emissions from vehicle travel); and
        Disposal (including landfill methane emissions5,
        water pollution).
Restaurants Can Become 'Green Certified'
While Reducing Waste Generation
Green Seal, a non-profit organization that certifies
environmentally sustainable products and services, offers
a "green" certification for restaurants and food services.
The certification process offers a structured way to
accomplish broad sustainability goals.
The "Restaurant and Food Service Operation" standards
specific to waste reduction and management include:
    Developing a waste management plan;
    Conducting waste audits;
    Operating a recycling program;
    Diverting a certain  percentage of
    waste from landfill;
    Reducing a certain percentage of waste generation;
    Composting wasted food; and
    Avoiding or eliminating disposable products or service
( [This link is for informational purposes only and
does not imply endorsement by EPA.]
5 The anaerobic decomposition of food and biodegradable food packaging in
landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) 25 times more potent
than carbon dioxide.
7  Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging

Wasted  Food   Source   Reduction  Strategies
Food Purchasing Policies
Create guidelines and goals to reduce spoilage and waste.
Specific policies can include:
    Use a system to identify over-purchased food items
    and avoid excess wasted food;
    Purchase pre-cut food to reduce prep waste; and
    Implement a "just-in-time" purchasing system to only
    order what is needed when it is needed.
Use the Food and Packaging Waste Prevention Tool to
help determine areas of over-purchasing and waste.
Storage Techniques
    Ensure that food products are stored under the
    proper conditions (for example, temperature); and
    Organize food products so that employees can easily:
     Use older products first,
     Find products when needed, and
     Monitor inventory levels.

Food Reuse/Repurposing
As long as proper food safety and handling practices are
followed, reusing leftover food can save money and
reduce waste. Creatively repurpose leftovers and
trimmings to efficiently use  excess food for other meals.
Flexibility in menu planning to accommodate the use of
excess food from previous meals is key to success.
Training Staff
While individual managers can influence the amount
of food wasted, the food service staff is ultimately
responsible for day-to-day food storage, organization,
preparation, and disposal.  Continuous training and
acknowledgement of staff is crucial to ensure proper
training of all employees, especially if there is high
Employing multiple training strategies will increase the
effectiveness (for example, in-person training as well as
posted signs). Consider offering recognition or incentives
to staff who help to significanly reduce waste or come up
with new strategies to reduce waste.
Food service managers should educate their staff on basic
steps to minimize food waste, including:
  Proper storage and organization practices to ensure
   food does not spoil before use;
  Cooking and preparation of food to reduce prep
   waste and food sent back to kitchen;
     Refining knife skills to reduce improper preparation
     Reducing batch sizes when reheating foods like
      soups or sauces to avoid leftovers
  Plating practices to reduce unnecessary food waste
    (see next page); and
  Waste tracking efforts.
                                                                      eftover Fruit
                                                                     Smoothies or dessert topping
                                                                          Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging  8

Tray-less Systems
Case studies have shown that trays encourage customers
to take more food than they can eat. Discourage
customers from wasting food by going tray-less or by
switching to smaller trays.
Menu  Planning
Wasted food tracking systems can help identify which
dishes customers frequently send back to the kitchen
or leave uneaten. This information enables managers to
modify the menu to both satisfy customers and generate
less waste.
Table 2 contains a simplified example of one week of	
kitchen food waste tracking using the Food and Packaging
Waste  Prevention Tool.
      Table 2: Menu Planning Example in Food and Packaging Waste Prevention Tool (pounds of wasted food)
Removing Trays
Reduces Waste
A 2008 study of 25 college
campuses found that
removing trays at dining halls
results in as much as 25 to 30
percent less wasted food.
(Source: Washington Post - February 17, 2011)
,.._.... _ ... Improperly Stored Food . ,  , , Food Sent Back by
Kitchen Food Waste Prep Waste /T , , _ . . Arrived Spoiled _ '
Cooked Expired Customer
Fruit and Vegetables
Background: This example shows wasted food type with respect to why the food was discarded. This information would be
automatically generated in the Summary Data portion of the tool after data entry.

Tracking Analysis: Dishes containing predominantly chicken  products are frequently sent back to the kitchen by
the customers.

Solution: This could indicate that menu items need to be modified or is not being properly prepared on a regular basis. Also, if
staff tracks plate waste, managers can adjust portion sizes so that less food is left unfinished.
Plating:  Serving Sizes and Garnishes
Even small garnishes and improper serving sizes quickly
add up to a  significant amount of food reaching landfills.
Food service managers can reduce food waste by:
   Avoiding use of inedible or rarely eaten garnishes
    unless requested.
   For serviced food counters, using the "ask first" policy
    for sides and garnishes (for example, ask if a pickle or
    side salad is wanted with a sandwich).
   Reducing scoop or serving size to reduce wasted food
    while still satisfying a customer's appetite.
Guest Education
Simply encouraging guests to take only the food they can
consume goes a long way in reducing wasted food. Food
service managers can post informational signs at buffet-
style food service venues that encourage customers to
take only enough food to match their appetite.
9  Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging

Case  Studies

University of California (DC),
Source Reduction Technique: Guest Education
Like many other colleges and universities, University of
California (UC), Berkeley has buffet-style dining halls where
much of the wasted food was a result of students' eyes
being larger than their stomachs. To address this problem,
CalDining worked with the Residential Sustainability
Education Coordinator (RSEC) Program to host "Eat the
World, Save the Earth" events to encourage students to
take only what they could eat. Students who cleared their
plates were rewarded with a small prize (for example,
candy) while students who wasted food had to scrape their
plates into a vessel and the amount of food discarded was
measured and reported throughout the evening. Students
noted that they had never before thought about how much
food they wasted.

University of Maine at Farmington
Source Reduction Technique: Tray-less Dining
In February 2007, the University of Maine started a tray-
less dining program. Food service managers spent several
weeks creating communication materials to convey the
benefits of the new tray-less dining program to students
and other dining hall patrons. The university's food  service
managers credit their communication efforts as a key
component of the program's success. In its first year, the
program reduced the university's overall waste generation
by 65,000 pounds, or roughly 46 pounds per person.
As an added bonus, the university also used 288,000
fewer gallons of water and reduced the energy and  dish
detergent consumption associated with cleaning trays.
(Source: Time Magazine, August 25, 2008)

University of Texas at Austin
Source Reduction Technique: Guest Education and Serving
In Spring 2008, the University of Texas at Austin audited
plate waste during lunch and dinner for five days. They
found that students left an average of 5.7 ounces of edible
food on their plates, equivalent to a medium-sized apple.
Food service staff engaged the students with signage and
visualizations of their daily waste using symbolic trash bins.
Students were allowed to sample menu items before taking
a full serving of the dish. Staff were also trained on portion
control and tracking of pre- and post-consumer waste. In
fall 2008, another plate audit was conducted, showing a 48%
reduction in wasted food.

Intel Corporation Cafes  in Hillsboro,
Source Reduction Technique: Food Reuse
Two Intel business dining facilities, serving approximately
12,000 meals per week, tracked all pre-consumer wasted
food on a daily basis for one year using computerized
food waste tracking systems and software from LeanPath.
Starting in April 2009, employees tracked all waste at a
scale positioned along the regular route of disposal in the
kitchen. They tracked not only the quantity of an item
discarded, but the reason for disposal. Weighing time
took less than four minutes per employee per week. With
the data, the chefs looked for reuse opportunities such
as using vegetable scraps for soup  stock and sauce base,
pureeing certain starches for thickeners in other entrees,
using dairy items prepped for the coffee station to make
chowder, and turning leftover fruit into chutney. Over
the course of the year, wasted food in  the ktichen was
reduced by 47% and food costs per meal decreased by
download/FoodWasteC aseStudy.pdf)

Turn Source Reduction

Strategies into  Action!

From the strategies detailed above, pick one or more to
pursue based on your waste assessment:
 D Create food purchasing policy
 D Revise storage techniques
 D Reuse food
 D Train staff
 D Remove trays
 D Revise menu
 D Alter plating and serving sizes
 D Educate guests on taking only what they can eat
                                                                               Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging  10

Feed  Hungry   People  /  Feed  Animals
How can a business help the community, the environment, and its
bottom  line at the same time?
Every day, food service providers such as supermarkets and restaurants make decisions about what to do with
surplus prepared food, produce, meat, bakery and dairy items that are still safe and wholesome to eat.

Feed People,  Not Landfills:

Food  Donation

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),
50 million Americans, or 14% of American households,
were food insecure in 2009.  Donating fresh food not only
reduces food reaching landfills, but also feeds those in

Do I have to worry about liability from donating food?
Many food providers worry about legal liability related
to their donated food. However, the Bill Emerson Good
Samaritan Food Donation Act (Public Law 104-210)
protects food  donors from legal liability if they donate in
good faith and without gross negligence.
What kind of food can be donated?
Non-perishable and unspoiled perishable  can be
donated. Check with the local food bank  or food rescue
organization to find out what items they will accept.
Additionally, follow food safety guidelines* at ensure that
food remains edible and safe to eat.
Looking for a Venue to Make a
Food Donation?
   Check out "Rock and Wrap It Up" (www.*
   A new tool called Hungerpedia is a resource to match
   agencies in need with donors of food and other assets
   Feeding America: Offers a database of regional food banks
   with contacts for smaller outlets
* [This link is for informational purposes only and does not imply
endorsement by EPA.]
containers for wholesome, edible food.

What tax benefits do I get from donating food?
Not only will donating food reduce your waste disposal
costs, but donations can also generate significant tax
benefits for businesses. Donors are advised to consult with
their tax advisor in applying the appropriate deduction.
Learn more at:
Will it take extra time to set aside donations?

Food that cannot be sold before its expiration date can be
set aside for a food recovery group instead of put into the
dumpster. Many food rescuers will take the time to sort
through the food, meaning the only change in procedure
is which bin to place the food in, with no extra work
necessary. Most food rescuers also provide monthly totals
of donations for making calculating tax deductions easy.
Most food recovery programs offer free pickups and
* [This link is for informational purposes only and does not imply
endorsement by EPA.]
Feed Animals
After feeding people, the next preferred food diversion
strategy is to send food waste to local farmers and others
who use food scraps (generally vegetative only) to feed
animals. To get started, contact the county agricultural
extension office, state veterinarian, or county health
department to find out about specific state regulations and
to find contact information for farmers.
   Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging

Training Staff
Regularly administered staff training is a key factor in the
success of programs to feed people or animals.

Tips for Training Staff
   Create clear and consistent signs with images and
    using multiple languages, if necessary;
   Organize infrastructure to work with the flow of the
    kitchen and ensure easy sorting;
   Motivate staff with recognition, incentives, or awards;
   Regularly monitor and check for contamination;
   Re-train as necessary, especially when there is a  high
    staff turnover rate; and
   Consider making food waste management a
    competency indicator for employee evaluations to
    incorporate reducing wasted food as  a standard
Staff Tips for Easy Sorting
    Place bins near sources of waste such
    as prep stations
    Put the organics and recycling bins to the left of
    the trash bin (people read left to right)
Case  Studies

Barthold Recycling &
Roll-off Services,  St. Francis,
Food Recovery Technique: Feed Animals
Barthold Recycling & Roll-off Services collects food from
restaurants, hotels, schools, nursing homes, grocery
stores and even large food processors to feed 3,800 pigs
and 250 head of cattle on its 290-acre facility. Today,
Barthold collects food scraps from about 400 commercial
customers in the  St. Francis, Minnesota area each month.
Customers pay 30% less to divert their wasted food
because it reduces hauling costs and fees at landfills.
Customers report other benefits  such as increased
cleanliness and reduced labor costs.
Rock and Wrap It Up, Nationwide
Food Recovery Technique: Feed People
Rock and Wrap It Up! (RWU) arranges the collection and
local donation of leftover food and other basic necessities
from rock concerts, sporting events,  hotels, corporate
meetings, political rallies, and school cafeterias. Since
its inception in 1994, the group has collaborated with
ISO bands, 200 schools and universities, and 30 sports
franchises to feed millions of people.
RWU provides template  language for bands, political
figures, and sports teams to include in their contracts
or permits with caterers. The language requires that
all leftover food to be donated to local soup kitchens:
"All edible leftover food to go to local soup kitchens
or shelters and Rock and Wrap It Up! will arrange for
the recovery." At the end of an event, RWU volunteers
organize the safe recovery and delivery of edible leftover
food. Feeding America's affiliated food banks also
participate in the recovery opportunities. There is no cost
to partnering with RWU. Food donations help reduce or
avoid disposal costs, and  RWU volunteers help to save
labor costs.

Albertsons, Nationwide
Food Recovery Technique: Feed People
Starting in 2007, the Albertsons supermarket chain has
worked to reduce its waste. After conducting a waste audit,
they realized how much edible food was being thrown out.
As a result, they developed a Fresh Rescue Program which
redirects fresh items such as meat, dairy, and produce that
have reached their "sell by" date but are still edible and safe.
Instead of being sent to the landfill, this food is donated
to a local nonprofit organization. The biggest challenge is
the timing and logistics to get the food distributed within
the narrow window of freshness. However, food rescue
organizations such as Feeding America help relieve some of
this strain with a network of partners. The thirty Nevada-
area stores reduced their average daily waste from 1,588
pounds of daily waste per store to 100 pounds per day.
                                                                                  Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging  12

Industrial  Uses/Composting
How can  wasted  food be converted  into fuel, soil, or  energy?
Industrial Uses
Fats, oil, and grease (FOG), such as fryer oil, can be used
to make biodiesel and other consumer goods.
Option I: Contact a local biodiesel club or manufacturer
- search online for town, county, or local university
biodiesel clubs to find out if they accept used fryer oil as
Option 2: Locate a nearby rendering facility - most
companies provide storage barrels and free pick-up
Composting food and compostable packaging (such as
soiled paper and compostable plastics such as PLA) can
produce a valuable soil amendment that can be used on-
site or sold for agriculture, landscaping, or horticultural
purposes. Food scraps can either be hauled off-site or
composted on-site, if resources (including money, space,
and staff) are available. Many haulers offer compostable
material collection at a discounted rate compared to
regular trash collection.
To get started:
I.  Call your current waste hauler to see if they offer
   organic material collection (or look online at Find-
   A-Composter at to find a
   composter near you).
2.  Contact the local or state environmental agency to
   find a hauler or learn more details about composting
3.  Train staff to properly sort compostable materials.
   Signage can help both staff and patrons sort the
   material properly.
More information on composting and a list of
considerations for starting a composting program can be
found at:
Lessons Learned From Food Diversion
   Training is key! It takes more than a letter or posted
   If guests or staff speak multiple languages, produce
   training and signage in multiple languages and use
   Reduce odors through more frequent pickup, use of
   can liners, and rinsing containers.
   Develop innovative partnerships. Check with state
   government and EPA to see what resources are
   Calculate cost savings.
Anaerobic  Digestion

Diverting wasted food to anaerobic digestion can
generate renewable energy (biogas) and create a valuable
soil amendment. Food service venues can partner with
wastewater treatment plants, waste haulers, dairies, or
municipalities to process their wasted food off-site at
an anaerobic digestion facility. Similar to a composting
program, staff need to be properly trained to sort
digestible materials. Proper signage can help staff during
this transition. For more information, visit
13  Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging
* [This link is for information purposes only and does not imply
endorsement by EPA.}

Training Staff
Staff need to know which materials are compostable and
how to the properly store food scraps and FOG.

Tips for Training Staff
   Create clear and consistent signs with images and in
    multiple languages, if necessary (Sample signage and
    training materials);
   Organize infrastructure to improve the flow of the
    kitchen and ensure easy sorting;
   Motivate staff with recognition, awards, or incentives;
   Regularly monitor and check for contamination; and
   Re-train as necessary, especially during times of high
    staff turnover.

Guest Education
Guests or customers also need clear and consistent
signage to ensure proper sorting of plate waste and
packaging. Use images and translate into multiple
languages, if necessary. Signs should be  placed near the
bins for easy separation. Proper guidance will prevent
contamination of your composting or anaerobic digestion

Case  Studies

California Grey  Bears,
Santa Cruz, California
Waste Diversion Technique: Composting
The California Grey Bears is a non-profit that distributes
food to seniors on a weekly basis, for a total of 100,000
brown bags delivered  per year. In order to be a good
partner to local produce  distributors, Grey Bears must
take both food they can use along with  food which can't be
distributed. As a result, they discard about one ton of food
scraps per week. To divert its food from landfill, the Grey
Bears purchased "Earth Tubs" for on-site composting. Not
only do they save about $2000 per year in garbage hauling
and disposal costs, but they also make about $2100 in
revenue from compost sales.
(Source: CalRecycle -
Roche Bros Supermarkets,
Waste Diversion Technique: Composting
To help Massachusetts achieve its goal of 70% waste
diversion, three Roche Brothers supermarkets began
composting about 455 tons of organic waste per year.
The program reduces the three stores' waste cost by
40 percent, saving $IO,000-$20,000 annually. Previously,
three compactors were used per supermarket to process
waste going to landfills. Each supermarket switched one
compactor to recyclables and one to compost. Keys
to the success of the program were:  I) Training and
communication with staff; 2) Use of biodegradable can
liners; and 3) More frequent hauling of wasted food during
the summer months to combat odor issues.
(Source: Massachusetts DEP -

East Bay Municipal Utilities District
(EBMUD), Oakland,  California
Waste Diversion Technique: Anaerobic Digestion
Oakland, California's wastewate treatment plant was the
first sewage treatment facility in the nation to convert
post-consumer food scraps to energy via anaerobic
digestion. Waste haulers collect post-consumer food from
local restaurants and markets and take it to the plant. In
an anaerobic digester, bacteria break down the food waste
and release biogas as a byproduct. EBMUD then captures
the biogas and uses it as a renewable source of energy to
power the treatment plant. After the digestion process,
the leftover material can be composted and used as a
natural fertilizer.
(Source: U.S. EPA -
                                                                                Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging  14

Turn  Waste  Diversion
Strategies  into  Action!
From the strategies detailed above, pick one or more to
pursue based on your waste assessment:
 D  Donate extra food to a local food bank
 D  Give food scraps to a local farmer for feeding
 D  Sell or give fats, oils, and grease to a local biodiesel
    refiner or club to recycle
 D  Start a composting program
 D  Train staff on how to separate organics
 D  Educate guests to properly sort materials
 Calculate Cost Savings  From Wasted Food Diversion Strategies
     Estimate reduced hauling or tipping fees. Businesses that generate a lot of wasted food might be able to
     reduce dumpster size or  pickup frequency
     Estimate sewer treatment, plumbing, and electricity costs for garbage disposals and other kitchen
     plumbing needs on a yearly basis. If discarded food is not going down the drain, how much can this save?
     Find out about eligibility for food donation tax breaks.
     How much is brand enhancement and marketing potential around supporting the community and
     reducing environmental impacts worth?
     Could revenue be generated by selling compost or using it for landscaping or growing food?
 The Food Waste Management Cost Calculator is a free tool that helps venues estimate the cost
 competitiveness of alternatives to food disposal including source reduction, donation, and composting.
 15  Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging

Packaging  Reduction  Strategies
Definition and  Benefits

of Packaging Reduction


Packaging and containers account for a significant portion
(23 percent) of the municipal solid waste stream in the
United States, equal to about 39 million tons per year.6 As
with wasted food, there are many benefits to reducing the
amount of wasted packaging, including:
    Cost savings from:
     Purchasing less packaging materials, and
     Avoided disposal of packaging materials.
    Environmental benefits by avoiding:
     Transportation energy and emissions from
     packaging production and waste transport,
     Use of natural resources, and
     Landfill emissions and land use associated
     with disposal.
Tracking and  Calculating Solid
Waste Disposal
The State of Massachusetts developed methods to track
costs associated with solid waste disposal including annual
hauling, operating and disposal costs:

Using Reusable Packaging
A good resource for using reusable packaging is located at:
[This link is for informational purposes only and does not imply
endorsement by EPA.]
Strategies  for Reducing


Bulk Purchasing
Buying food in larger quantities can reduce the related
packaging. This strategy is particularly useful for
condiments and non-perishable food items such as sugar,
grains, oils, spices, etc.
Front-of-the-house examples:
    Use condiment dispensers instead of individual
    packets to both encourage taking only what is needed
    and reduce excess packaging.
    Use a thermos of creamer and jar of sugar at coffee
    stations instead of single-use packets.

Use Reusable  Packaging/Service
Replacing one-time-use packaging and service ware with
reusable products reduces waste and environmental
impacts while saving money.
     Standard Packagirr
 (Cardboard) Boxes
 Disposable cutlery
 Paper or plastic plates
Waste Conscious Packagin'
Reusable totes, pallets
or bins
Reusable cutlery (or keep
disposables behind the
counter to discourage taking
more than needed)
Reusable plates
6 U.S. EPA (2010). "Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and
Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2010". Available at: 2010 data tables.pdf.
                                                                        Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging  16

Use  Environmentally-Friendly
When selecting service ware or products (with packaging),
choose materials that can be recycled or composted in
your area. Before ordering packaging, check with your
local waste hauler to see which types of material they
accept for recycling and composting.
Buying Tip: Purchase wooden coffee stirrers that can be
composted instead of plastic ones that are not recyclable.
Remember: the most environmentally friendly packaging is
no packaging.
For example, for carry-out bags, ask the customer if one is
needed before automatically using one. Another strategy
popular with customers is to offer discounts for "bring
your own" containers- especially for beverages.

Example: "Bring Your Own"  Cost Analysis


12 hours

Cost of disposable packaging
(cup, lid, and sleeve)
Discount for "bring your own" cup
Daily operating hours
No. of bring your _ . Annual cost
 , Daily cost savings
own per hour savings
No. of "bring your
own" per hour
Annual greenhouse
gas reduction (Ib.
CO2 equivalent)*
Annual solid waste
reduction (Ib.)*
*Based on 16 oz. cup with insulating sleeve
                                                 Recycling or Composting  Program
                                                 In many locations, recycling and composting are cheaper
                                                 than landfilling.
Keeping Food Fresh and Safe
Packaging optimization helps to keep food fresh and safe
for consumption. AMERIPEN reports that modern poultry
packaging practices have decreased pre-consumer chicken
food waste from 12% to 4%, resulting in an annual net
savings of $4 billion.
(Source: AMERIPEN -
[This link is for informational purposes only and does not imply
endorsement by EPA.]

17  Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging
                                                      Recyclable Materials*
                              Compostable Materials*
                            Soiled paper (napkins, paper
                            Paper or wood packaging
                            (sugar packets, wooden
                            coffee stirrers)
                            Other organics (yard
                                                 These are the most common recyclable and compostable materials,
                                                 check with your local waste hauler to confirm specific materials.
Zero-Packaging Groceries

Ingredients is a "package-free, zero waste" grocery store
in Austin, Texas. Customers buying items in their store are
encouraged to bring their own reusable packaging for items
such as grains, dairy, and wine. This leads to a reduction of

(Source: GOOD -
[This link is for informational purposes only and does not imply
endorsement by EPA.]
                                                             Purchasing Policies
                                                 Including packaging reduction in a purchasing policy helps
                                                 reach reduction goals. A policy should include specific
                                                 guidelines and goals for reducing and diverting waste, such

                                                    Purchasing products in containers that can be taken
                                                     back by supplier;

                                                    Purchasing products in containers that can be recycled
                                                     or composted;

                                                    Selecting reusable instead of disposable service ware;

                                                    Selecting service ware or condiments that can be
                                                     recycled or composted.

Case Studies

Ghirardelli Chocolate Company
Packaging Reduction Technique: Reusable Packaging
As a way to reduce waste in their production of premium
chocolate products, Ghirardelli replaced cardboard
packaging with plastic reusable totes. The company has
realized almost $2 million in packaging cost savings and
prevented almost 400 tons of cardboard generation and
disposal each year.
(Source: -
Ghirardelli%20Chocolate_final_8-31-07.pdf). [This link is for
informational purposes only and does not imply endorsement by EPA.]

Acme  Bread Company
Packaging Reduction Technique: Environmentally-Friendly
This California-based artisan bread company converted
its bread bags to use 40% post-consumer waste paper for
its in-store packaging of bread. The switch has resulted
in annual savings of over 70,000 gallons of water and
40,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity associated with
avoided paper production.

Straus Creamery
Packaging Reduction Technique: Reusable Bottles
Since 1994, the organic creamery has used 50% recycled
glass for its deposit-based reusable glass milk bottles. The
bottles are returned to the creamery, washed, sanitized
and reused an average of 6-8 times before being finally
recycled. In addition, Straus uses plastic crates as reusable
packaging for its shipments.
Turn  Packaging  Reduction

Strategies  into Action!

From the strategies detailed above, pick one or more to
pursue based on your waste assessment:
 D  Identify supplies that can be purchased in bulk
 D  Replace one-time-use packaging and service ware
    with reusable products
 D  Switch to environmentally-friendly disposables
 D  Start a "bring your own" container program
 D  Recycle or compost packaging
                                                                            Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging  18

The least-desirable option on EPA's Food Waste Recovery Hierarchy is disposal.
Disposal Strategy

Pulping Waste
Pulpers remove excess water from wasted food which
can significantly reduce its weight and volume. This usually
reduces cost of disposal by leading to lowered tipping fees
and less frequent pick-up.
Case Study

Rutgers University
Disposal Technique: Pulping Waste
Rutgers has implemented a sophisticated wasted food
diversion plan to deal with a large amount of food
discarded from their cafeterias and dining halls on campus.
In addition to diverting food for animal feed, Rutgers also
uses a food waste pulper. The pulper pulverizes food
scraps and removes excess water which reduces the
volume by up to 80 percent. Although the pulping machine
is expensive (each unit costs roughly $45,000), Rutgers
saved almost $100,000  in just one year in avoided landfill
hauling costs.
Ensure Proper Recycling


Earth9l can help to find local recyclers
for all kinds materials from plastic to batteries.
[This link is for informational purposes only and does not imply
endorsement by EPA.]
Waste Reduction Model (WaRM)

WaRM is used to compare lifecycle greenhouse
gas emissions from standard and alternative waste
management practices, such as source reduction,
recycling, and composting. This tool is used  by local
government and organizations to quantify the connection
between waste and climate change.

(Source: U.S.  EPA -
19  Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Pacific Southwest -