Controlling food waste is a priority for efficiently run restaurants. Whether on the consumer side or in the back-of-the-house, reducing waste can help operators cut costs, decrease a restaurant's environmental footprint and reduce hunger.

Scaling back waste starts with measuring it. According to National Restaurant Association research, an increasing number of operators are doing so. Of the 500 restaurant owners and operators we surveyed, about half said they monitored the amount of food waste their businesses generate. About three in four of these report they track food waste daily. Limited-service operators, chain operators and franchisees were among the most likely to say they track their food waste each day.

Other findings:

  • One in five operators said they donate leftover edible food they would otherwise throw away.
  • Fifty-four percent of our respondents said liability or food-safety concerns were the primary reasons for not participating in food donation programs.
  • Fourteen percent said they compost at least some food waste. A lack of nearby composting facilities is the No. 1 reason they don’t compost their food waste.

The research points to some good opportunities to cut food waste even further, says Jeff Clark, the Association’s sustainability manager. “More education about food donation and where to locate local composting facilities could boost donation and composting even more. Providing that information is one of our goals.”

Download our report to learn more about restaurant sustainability.