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    Waste Tracking & Analytics

    Diversion Potential:
    571K Tons

    Economic Value Per Ton:
    $2,282

    GHGs Reduced:
    2,306K Tons

    Water Saved:
    317B Gallons

    Definition

    Providing restaurants and food service providers with data on wasteful practices to inform behavioral and operational changes

    Overview

    Every business has heard the adage “what is measured gets managed,” and this is true for food waste as well. Waste tracking and analytics tools include the publically available Conserve program offered by the National Restaurant Association, private solutions such as LeanPath, and internally built business tools.

    Waste tracking varies in sophistication from using scales, cameras, and phone apps to basic paper and pen to collect and analyze data. This data helps businesses identify the volumes and types of food that are tossed out during food preparation, informing operational changes and building the business case for investment in other solutions. There is a recent uptick in interest in waste tracking because it achieves two corporate priorities: increased profit margins and data reporting to show external stakeholders a path to lower overall waste levels.

    Challenges

    • Many food facilities have zero existing data to analyze waste.
    • Restaurants and food service providers have not invested in this solution primarily because they are not aware of the potential cost savings at their facilities.
    • Existing waste tracking tools may have the reputation for being either extremely expensive or cumbersome to use, although the cost and ease of use of tools is improving across the market.
    • Tracking and analytics tools require an upfront investment of time and resources to realize a positive bottom-line impact.

    Stakeholder Actions

    • Restaurants and foodservice providers should deploy pilots in select facilities to demonstrate the positive return on investment. Waste tracking tools can improve employee engagement with staff who care about hunger and environmental issues.
    • Strong corporate leadership is needed to overcome organizational silos, since managers, chefs, and kitchen staff all need to buy in to the benefits to coordinate implementation.
    • Investors can fund entrepreneurs working to reduce operational costs and labor requirements for these technologies. This includes new camera or sensor technology to reduce the requirements for staff to manually input data.
    • Nonprofits and municipalities can partner with technology providers to offer discounted rates and employee training. Nonprofits that purchase a lot of food, such as nursing homes, colleges, and food banks, can increase their impact by freeing up operational dollars that previously were spent on discarded food.

    Examples & Resources

    • The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger’s “What a Waste” Program partnered with LeanPath to implement waste tracking for senior nutrition programs.

    • Stony Brook University adopted a food waste reduction program called Trim Trax, developed by foodservice contractor Compass Group to help businesses track and measure food waste costs.

    • StopWaste, a public agency in Alameda, Calif., launched the “Smart Kitchen Initiative” with LeanPath to subsidize the adoption of waste tracking and analytics among businesses that perceive too much risk to implement on their own.


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