How companies can decrease food waste

Mass corporations and franchises are responsible for roughly 60% of all food waste in America. From Dunkin Donuts’ tossing hundreds of donuts each day after the day is finished, to Starbucks opening food just to be put on display and tossing them after the item is sold out, and to portions not accounting for potential waste, there is a problem of food waste by companies in America. With roughly 13 million people living with food insecurity in the US and world hunger affecting over 10% of the global population, solving America’s food waste problem is of the utmost importance in order to truly become a sustainable place. 

Reduced Prices and Donate Food

One of the most beneficial things a company can do to reduce food waste is by eliminating mass food waste. What I mean by mass food waste is the mass amounts of food companies throw out at the end of the day. A good tool to eliminate mass food waste is having restaurants and groceries start implementing reduced-priced food at the end of the day for those in need. TooGoodToGo is an app and certified B Corporation (B Corps are legal certifications given to companies who commit to positively helping the environment; these certifications ensure that these companies are not greenwashing) that does such by letting the public know what restaurants are giving away food at reduced prices and even for free. Companies can use apps like TooGoodToGo in order to get rid of their surpluses of food in an ethical way and give these food to those in need. 

Similarly, there’s already programs in place in mega corporations that eliminate food waste. Dunkin’s The End of the Day Donation Program, is a program in which unclaimed orders and food surpluses can be donated at the end of the day. Although this is a step in the right direction, the program is an optional program and thus left at the discretion of the owner of the restaurant; and is also nulled if there are food donation restrictions in place where the Dunkin’ is located. Therefore even if these food waste reduction programs are implemented, we must make them a mandatory policy in all establishments and change food restriction laws to annex licensed companies to be eligible to donate/sell subsidized food.  

Plastic Models

Another way to reduce food waste is to replace display foods with plastic look-alikes. In countries like Japan, food displays are made permanent by having realistic plastic displays of food to draw people into restaurants. Rather than constantly throwing out food displays, it would be not only a food saver, but also more cost effective in the long run to have permanent food displays one can reuse over time. 

Other Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Other small adjustments companies can make make the biggest differences in terms of waste. An effective way to reduce possible waste is to use previous sales data to order the minimum of inventory needed to maintain demand, including some extra room in preparation of higher demand days. Having chefs know how to use all of their products such as adding a leftover dish to their menu and giving away/selling byproducts and unwanted ingredients to other companies who will repurpose them also signs of mitigating waste; for instance, London’s zero-waste restaurant—Silo—uses unwanted vegetable scraps and boil them into a soup, mush the pulp, and repurposes it as a sauce. Tracking the weight of food waste with a waste journal is an excellent way to see what programs and reduction systems one has done has been effective in mitigating food waste. 

There are a lot of different policies, programs, and practices that companies can use to mitigate food waste. These several tips may sound like a lot, but with gradual implementation they can make a difference in how we view fast food restaurants and the ethics of them as a whole. For more inspiration on zero waste, I have attached a video by the Financial Times of Silo’s commitment to zero waste


Written by Lugardo Marroquin-Cano (’24)

Image by Pexels from Pixabay