Food Waste Prevention for Roseburg Businesses

Food is a precious resource.

Sustainably managing that resource is a way for local businesses to save money, help reduce hunger among those in need and fight climate change.

ReFed, a food recycling and waste management nonprofit, reports about 18 million tons or $167 billion dollars’ worth of wasted or “surplus” food were produced in this country in 2021 by retail food services, restaurants and other consumer-facing businesses. That 18 million tons represented 20% of total wasted food – with homes producing 44 million tons or 48%, farms creating 16 million tons or 17%, and manufacturing producing 13 million tons or 15%.

Project Drawdown – a nonprofit trying to help the world stop climate change – identified reducing food waste as having the third-greatest potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While homes are estimated to be the largest source of wasted food in this country, there’s plenty that concerned local business owners can do as well.

We have much greater potential to reduce environmental and financial impacts by preventing food from being wasted and sustainably managing food than we do by using food waste recovery methods such as composting.

In fact, the Pacific Coast Collaborative encourages food businesses and jurisdictions to join the Pacific Coast Food Waste Commitment, a public-private partnership collaborating toward effective industry-wide actions to prevent and reduce wasted food on the West Coast in an effort to cut such waste in half by 2030.

Top 10 Tips:

1. Audit Food Waste: You and your team can create more effective prevention strategies by understanding why wasted food is generated -- and just how much of it is. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers free online tools so you can do a food waste audit.

2. Hold a Meeting: Kitchen staff can meet as a team to brainstorm waste prevention strategies.

3. Rethink This: The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends avoiding waste by improving product development, storage, shopping/ordering, marketing, labeling and cooking methods.

4. Standard Operating Procedures: Developing and documenting best practices, procedures and rules will give all employees clear information and guidelines on food safety standards, quality guidelines and traceability requirements. Add an easily updateable food waste log in your establishment’s standard operating procedures manual to track what was discarded and why.

5. Purchasing: Buy local to minimize environmental impacts through reduced transportation and storage time. Save money by buying bruised or oddly shaped or sized produce at a discount. Consider increasing the frequency of regular inventory checks to minimize spoilage.

6. Menu Customization: Customize your menu and offer different portion sizes. You may want to rethink portion sizes of certain dishes if too much food is left on plates. Serving staff and customers can provide feedback to help fine-tune menus.

7. Prep Ideas: Cook to order and reduce batch sizes prepared ahead of time. Use as much of the food as possible – cook carrot greens and wash, rather than peel, potatoes and cucumbers. Eliminate garnishes that aren’t typically eaten or replace them with veggies that are. Train staff on knife skills that make more efficient cuts to use more of the food. Stalk vegetables can be reconstituted by immersing in warm water (100 F) for 15 minutes.

8. Use All You Can: Stretch your budget and reframe your ideas about what food “waste” is by using everything you can. Vegetable, bone and seafood scraps and trimmings can be used to make stock, which freezes well for later use. Add great flavor to stock by using stems from asparagus, parsley, herbs and mushrooms; tops from onions, carrot and celery; pepper cores – even seafood shells. Wilted but unspoiled veggies also work.

9. Storage: Keep food storage areas clean and tidy. Place all food items in appropriate containers and store at the optimum temperature. Label perishables with date received, date they expire and servings in a container. Make sure refrigerators and freezers are operating at the right temperatures and store foods at high risk for foodborne illness below low-risk foods. Use the first-in, first-out method, or FIFO, to organize and rotate inventory so oldest items are used first. Marinate meats to extend their refrigerator shelf life a few more days. Freeze surplus fresh fruits and veggies while they’re still good so they can be used later instead of discarded.

10. Local Hunger and Reuse: Unavoidable excess food can be donated to hunger-relief organizations. Inedible food can be recycled into other products such as animal feed, compost and worm castings, bioenergy, bioplastics and clothing.

Additional Resources