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  • Next Plate

The Food Waste Dilemma

One of the greatest luxuries in America is the endless supply of food everywhere you look. Grocery aisles stocked to the brim with perfect looking produce. Bakeries and donut shops with platters of freshly baked pastries. Restaurants constantly prepping trays of food to serve you at a moment's notice. However, providing this convenience comes with a huge price… and an even bigger problem.

In 2010, the USDA estimated that 30-40 percent of the American food supply was being wasted. At the retail and consumer levels, that equates to over 133 billion pounds, which is enough to feed 150 million people for a whole year. In addition to surplus food going to waste, a 2021 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report estimated greenhouse gas emissions from food waste in America each year are the equivalent of powering over 50 million homes in America (and that’s without considering methane emitted from food production and decomposing in landfills).

So why are restaurants throwing food away?

According to a report from Business Insider, almost 84% of food that isn’t used in American restaurants is thrown out. Here are some of the reasons we’ve heard from our partners on NextPlate.

  1. Some ingredients do not have a long shelf life and have to be thrown away.

  2. Mistakes happen in the kitchen.

  3. There are incorrect orders.

  4. Canceled delivery orders or driver no shows.

  5. Prepped items that have been cooked cannot be served the next day.

“As a business, we already factor in the cost of ingredients. We just have to make sure that we never sell out during the day, and prepping extra food helps us achieve that,” says George Lawson, owner of Twist Kitchen & Grill.

While most restaurant owners are aware of their food waste and its impact on the world, finding a solution to manage it is often complicated. With long hours and increasing prices in the supply chain, restaurants may not have an extra hand to invest additional costs and logistics into setting up donations.

“One restaurant upcycling their food waste can make an impact on their community,” Lawson says, “but building a platform that makes it easy for all food services can change the world.”

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