Sustainable Management of Food

Tools for Assessing Wasted Food

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Background

The first step in reducing waste is to measure and track the amount, type of, and the source of the food and packaging waste. A food and packaging waste audit serves as the foundation for reduction efforts. Information on the waste type such as bell peppers or chicken breasts and reason for loss such as over-preparation or improper cooking is critical to make meaningful changes. By using EPA's food waste assessment tools, food service establishments can:

  • Save money by reducing over-purchasing and disposal costs
  • Reduce environmental impacts
  • Support efforts to eliminate hunger
  • Increase tax benefits by donating food; and
  • Support community waste reduction efforts.

Food Waste Assessment Guidebook

The first step toward reducing wasted food is to perform an assessment to identify what is actually being thrown away. Retail, food service, and other food management establishments can use the Food Waste Assessment Guidebook to learn how to do a wasted food assessment. By getting to know what you throw away, you can cut down on disposal costs, reduce purchasing and labor costs, reduce water and energy use associated with food production, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

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Toolkit for Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging

Food service establishments can use this tool to track the daily amount, type of, and reason for wasted food and packaging with paper logs. Users enter information into the Food and Packaging Waste Prevention Tool Food and Packaging Waste Prevention Tool(9 pp, 914 K) that automatically creates graphs and data summaries to help identify patterns of waste generation. Based on these patterns, a business can make strategic changes to their operation.

An accompanying guide, the Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging: A Guide for Food Services and Restaurants provides more information on turning audit results into action to save money and reduce waste.

Note: The tool requires a minimum of two weeks of daily tracking by staff and weekly data entry for best results.

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Food Waste Management Cost Calculator

The Food Waste Management Calculator Food Waste Management Calculator(11 pp, 557 K) estimates the cost competitiveness of alternatives to food waste disposal, including source reduction, donation, composting, and recycling of yellow grease. The calculator:

  • Develops an alternative food waste management scenario based on:
    • Your waste profile
    • Availability of diversion methods; and
    • Preferences, and
  • Compares cost estimates for a disposal versus an alternative scenario

The Calculator demonstrates that environmentally and socially responsible food waste management is cost-effective for many facilities and waste streams. The more you know about your current waste management costs, the more accurate the calculator’s estimate will be, but default values are provided for many variables.

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Paper Tracking Waste Logs

Paper Tracking Waste Logs can be printed and used to track the quantity and reason for waste.

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Waste Reduction Model

The Waste Reduction Model tool helps organizations track and voluntarily report greenhouse gas emissions reductions from several different waste management practices.

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Training Webinars

EPA hosts webinars designed to provide useful information to Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) participants and endorsers and to others interested in learning about sustainable management of food. Experts from across the nation offer technical assistance and insight into various food recovery-related topics and best management practices to support the work of various sectors of the FRC, such as grocers, venues, universities, and the hospitality industry.

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