Every industry can do its part for the environment, and the Environmental Protection Agency provides guidelines for just about every one of them. Restaurants are no exception. The EPA provides food establishments with some basics regarding sustainable food management.
The food waste produced by restaurants could ultimately affect the environment. As it pertains to food, it's more about conserving resources and feeding people. The agency discusses the ways that restaurants can reduce the amount of food they waste. If you own a restaurant, some of the agency's suggestions may help you meet that goal.
How big is the problem?
Modern countries such as the United States waste a substantial amount of food. Years ago, around 33 percent of the food produced for humans was either wasted or lost. That percentage may be higher now. Around 39 million tons of food generated in 2015 went to waste. Most of it ends up in incinerators and landfills with only approximately 5.3 percent used as compost.
Restaurants generally have what the EPA refers to as "food waste," which comes in many forms. You know it as the following:
- Kitchen trimmings
- Uneaten prepared food
- Plate waste, or food left on customer's plates
The EPA encourages businesses with this kind of waste to help return it to the soil, if possible. If good, healthy food becomes waste, the agency encourages you to donate it to food banks, homeless shelters or some other establishment that takes donated food to feed the hungry. Simply throwing the food away in plastic bags produces excess methane as the food decomposes. Finding new and more environmentally friendly methods of disposing of food waste could help reduce the environmental impact of food waste.
Creating an environmentally sustainable kitchen
More often these days, restaurants are trying to be more eco-friendly. Food waste is not the only area in which the EPA may oversee how you run your kitchen. In order to ensure that your establishment complies with any applicable environmental regulations, it might be a good idea to consult with someone with experience in this area of the law. Ensuring that you don't run afoul of any environmental laws will not only help you remain in compliance with both Georgia and federal regulations, but it could ultimately save you money as well.