Restaurants worldwide use millions of kilos of food every day. Unfortunately, that means that waste is extensive as well. Every year, landfills take roughly 63 million tons of food waste in the U.S. It costs nearly $218 billion to grow, process, transport, and then dispose of all that organic produce. That is quite expensive, and some companies are working to find solutions to this problem.
The biggest contributor to these figures is the end consumer, bit the U.S. restaurant sector plays its part as well. Overall, it generates 11.4 million tons of food waste annually, and it costs more than $25 billion.
Companies are searching out innovative and efficient solutions globally, and like in many other sectors, they turned to technology. Through innovative management, tracing, and mobile apps, technology is changing the landscape of the industry. And it may be yield better results for food waste management.
First and foremost, reducing food waste on a commercial scale is tracing products through the food supply chain. That makes it easier to identify and reduce food-waste hotspots. Furthermore, we could trace the location and status of specific food products in the supply chain to increase delivery efficiency for perishables.
Thus far, IBM’s blockchain-based Food Trust is one of the most notable advancements in this area. It utilizes the transparency and accountability of blockchain technology. The Trust also connects participants across the food supply through a shared record of food system data, which is permissible and permanent.
Big companies in the food supply sector have already agreed about the benefits of blockchain technology. Dole Food Company, the world’s biggest producer of fruit and vegetables, announced a five-year plan to increase its use of distributed ledger technology.
What are the other methods for reducing waste?
There are other tracking and tracing practices that use relatively simple tools such as barcodes or numeric tags. They are already well established, but not as effective as the blockchain system.
New technology has enabled tracing systems to scale up. Easier access to better software and hardware has encouraged the development of electronic identification systems. They include electronic tags with chips, as well as handheld scanners for reading, storing, and transmitting the data to PCs for long-term storage and analysis. All of this can identify issues and streamline the food supply chain.
While waste is inevitable in the restaurant industry, it can be reduced significantly with the use of this technology. Some restaurants are trying to do this by implementing more advanced equipment. They use technology such as smart scales to register and measure food waste across chains. It can help individual kitchens realize how much waste they actually generate. Furthermore, restaurants can improve temperature control and keep refrigerated and frozen foods at optimal temperatures for longevity.
In addition, some restaurants use waste diversion reports, which are another very powerful solution. With these reports, they can track how much is recycled as compared to composted or landfilled. It allows owners to make informed decisions about their food-waste management.
There is also a significant financial incentive for this type of solution. ReFED, a food waste non-profit reported that restaurants could realize an additional $620 million in profit potential per year if they adopt prevention solutions such as Waste Tracking & Analytics.