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National Restaurant Association - Toolkit issued to reduce industry’s food waste

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Toolkit issued to reduce industry’s food waste

The Food Waste Reduction Alliance released its first-ever best practices guide for restaurateurs, manufacturers, and retailers, offering solutions on reducing food waste at their businesses and diverting it from landfills across America.

Released April 16, the Best Practices and Emerging Solutions Toolkit is the brainchild of the Alliance, which is spearheaded by the National Restaurant Association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute. The group, established in 2011, is working to tackle food waste challenges within the food sector, and the toolkit is a first step in helping operators, manufacturers and retailers reduce food waste at the source.

“We are proud to be a leading partner in the Food Waste Reduction Alliance’s efforts to reduce food waste in this country and believe this toolkit will help operators to better understand and tackle the issue of food waste head on,” said FWRA co-chair Laura Abshire, the NRA’s director of sustainability and government policy. “This guide will provide our industry with the strategies and solutions needed to prevent, reduce and divert food waste at their various businesses.”

“Our goal for the toolkit is to elevate the issue of food waste within the sector and enable more companies to take action by sharing key learnings and model practices gleaned from organizations who are at the leading edge of this issue, said Gail Tavill, vice president, sustainable development for ConAgra Foods and one of the toolkit authors.”

According to the FWRA, approximately 80 billion pounds of food waste are discarded in U.S. landfills each year. One of the group’s goals is to get more foodservice providers to donate their unused food to those who need it most.

“The sad truth is that while all of this food is going to waste, 37 million Americans struggle to put enough food on the table to feed their families. The safe, edible food that is diverted from the waste stream to food banks through model practices showcased in the toolkit make a positive social impact on communities across the country by providing sustenance to those in need,” said Karen Hanner, director of manufacturing product sourcing at Feeding America and a contributor to the toolkit.

The best practices compiled for the toolkit came from more than 30 member companies including Darden Restaurants and contract foodservice provider Sodexo. They include:

  • tactics for overcoming obstacles to food donation such as liability and supply chain issues
  • emerging solutions and new technologies for recycling food waste, including energy production opportunities
  • strategic planning to avoid food waste generation

It also features a getting started section that shows companies just beginning to consider food waste reduction strategies how to:

  • conduct waste characterization assessments
  • establish standard operating procedures, and
  • develop collaborative relationships with partners from the anti-hunger community, waste management providers and other stakeholders

This toolkit will educate restaurateurs on the issue of food waste and show them how they can improve their businesses simultaneously,” Abshire said. By providing real-life examples of what others are doing to solve the food waste issue at their businesses, operators will see that starting a composting program or conducting a waste audit at their restaurants doesn’t have to be daunting or difficult.”

For more information on the FWRA or the toolkit, go to www.foodwastealliance.org. To learn more about sustainability practices in the restaurant and foodservice industry, visit the NRA’s Conserve site at Restaurant.org/Conserve.

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