Shifting Priorities During COVID-19: Waste Goes up as Restaurants aim to Stop the Spread of the Pandemic

Waste production is going up as business owners around the world swap their waste reduction initiatives out with ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For nearly a month now, Starbucks has banned the use of reusable mugs that visitors typically get a discount for using. Starbucks President of company-operated businesses in the United States and Canada Rosann Williams stated in an open letter that the company “will continue to honor the 10-cent discount for anyone who brings in a personal cup or asks for “for here” ware.” They have yet to announce how long their bring-your-own-mug program will be suspended for at this time.

Meijer grocery stores are no longer allowing reusable shopping bags in their stores. With this rise in waste production in response to the current pandemic, there are still ways restaurant owners can cut back on waste and continue to stay true to their missions of doing the least harm to the environment while serving their communities.

If your restaurants want to reduce waste even amidst the current crisis, there’s still plenty you can do. Don’t lose sight of your initiatives to be a green company, instead adapt and control your waste as much as possible in light of new situations.

Donate Food Waste to Local Charities

Since events are canceling and dining halls are closed, many restaurant owners are seeing an influx of food waste and looking for ways to avoid throwing the food in the trash. While restaurants are seeing less business in many areas, there has also been an influx of requests for food donations for charitable organizations.

Second Servings of Houston, Texas, which picks up perishable food items and delivers them to local charities, has been working more hours, picking up double the amount of food as usual, and still seeing an increased demand for food donations. They are the only organization in Houston who picks up prepared food items, but other organizations like them are found all around the country.

In the same way as other entrepreneurs in the metro Detroit eatery industry, Amy Jean Thompson has been battling. As of this winter, sales at her eatery Ideal Bite Community Kitchen had been down, and she was energetically looking forward to the adjustment in the seasons for some help with an uptick in sales. Toward the start of March, things appeared to be gazing upward. The climate was improving, and providing food orders began rolling in, including a significant request for a 100-man occasion, settled in advance for the next week. At that point on March 10, the inescapable occurred: Michigan recognized its initial two instances of COVID-19.

Reach out to local shelters, schools, and charitable organizations that are struggling to meet the increased demand for food supplies. Local schools across the country are trying to provide students with lunches while schools are closed, and can use your assistance as well. The main take away, is if it will go to waste, make something good out of it instead.

Cut Down on Packaging Waste

It’s time to look at the packaging you use for to-go and delivery orders as we shift from serving customers in dining halls to curbside service and delivery only. Consider placing meals all-in-one package instead of separating sides if it’s feasible for the dish. Make sure to ask customers if they need cutlery with their order before placing it inside their order.

You can also look into compostable packaging options and inform customers their takeout packaging can be composted. Or, give customers instructions on recycling the current packaging you use for carryout and delivery orders.

 Update your POS for Paperless Ordering

A POS that avoids paper ticket print-outs can help reduce waste and save time in your restaurant right now. With a POS system from Lavu, orders go directly from the order portal to the kitchen and can be displayed on a digital screen instead of printed on paper.

How can your POS system help reduce waste in your restaurant?

  •   Paperless ordering
  •   Automatic inventory tracking (avoid over-ordering)
  •   Analytic reporting
  •   Adding options for napkins, cutlery, and straws – cut back on giving out these as freebies unless asked for.

Keep Track of Inventory with POS Integrations

With your POS system, you can easily keep track of inventory and adjust orders. With customers shifting their focus from going out to eat to eating at home, their buying habits are changing. Avoid overbuying products that will soon expire, and look for trends in certain foods becoming more popular. The last thing you want right now is to run out of products that are suddenly in high demand.

Cut Down on Perishable Food Purchases

Keep a close eye on your inventory analytics and use caution when ordering perishable food products. While it’s true you can donate most products before they spoil, you’ll take a big hit to your revenue if you over-order products that will expire before you can sell them to your customer base.

For more tips on using your inventory tracking system to cut waste and make reordering easier, check out this previous blog post from Lavu.

Start Composting Food Waste

Nearly 82% of food waste from restaurants ends up in landfills, according to research prepared for the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. Transforming natural waste into fertilizer allows that waste to return to the earth and become supplements for the soil. Composting diminishes food squandering that winds up in landfills and makes the soil nutrient-rich to develop increasingly organic items (it’s incredible to do on the off chance that you’ve begun hyper-local sourcing!). The procedure can be somewhat mind-boggling, so in case you’re uncertain about how to start, here are a few tips from the Restaurant Store on composting.

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