— By Michael Hess —
5 tips for successful waste management in the retail and restaurant industries.
Owning a restaurant or retail location comes with a great deal of responsibility — including waste disposal. Regardless of business size or location, waste management is essential to day-to-day operations. In recent years, waste and diversion have become top concerns of business owners and retailers, especially when associated with revenue loss. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), restaurants produced 17.1 million tons of wasted food. This wasted food is a substantial revenue loss for both large and small companies in the restaurant sector. There are solutions, however. Here are some tips when it comes to waste management in the retail and restaurant industries.
Don’t ignore your waste management program
Like electricity for a home or gas in a vehicle, day-to-day garbage, trash and recycling collection is often taken for granted. Collecting garbage, trash and recycling materials may seem simple, but it can be an additional stress on restaurant and retail chains. Restaurant and retail executives work hard to maintain very complex supply chains across their footprint, and managing these chains successfully depends on optimal efficiency. A substantial part of that efficiency hinges on ensuring that businesses have a functional waste program to avoid interruptions and unnecessary hazards from trash buildup in facilities. Ignoring your waste management program essentially guarantees backups and delays directly resulting in revenue loss.
Evaluate your program needs and budget restrictions
Assess the volume of your waste output. Different types and sizes of equipment are used depending on how much waste material is produced by your business on a regular basis, and it’s important to utilize the correct machinery and programs. Appropriate sizing cuts costs for businesses by ensuring they’re not overpaying for a larger waste compactor or recycling container than they need; if a selected container is too small, a company pays for additional hauling fees for the increased frequency of pickups. It is also important to think about how much of your budget will be allocated to your waste management program. This will help determine which equipment and technology will be best for your business.
Consider the level of sustainability desired and set waste management goals accordingly
Another consideration for any waste management program is the desired level of sustainability. Restaurants and retail have high potential for sustainability programs, but executives should determine what level of sustainability they want to achieve based on their budget and other restrictions. Retailers that produce large quantities of cardboard waste should work with their waste management provider to set up an efficient recycling program based on the frequency and amount of recyclable waste.
According to the USDA, in the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30% and 40% of the food supply. One solution to combat food waste is to adopt a composting system. Composting allows businesses to recycle any organic waste by collecting it in an appropriately sized container and having it transported to a facility where it will be composted or converted into other organic products. If you have multiple restaurant or retail locations, know that each geographical area has different waste and recycling protocols and services. Collaborate with a knowledgeable waste management service provider to ensure the right steps are being taken to properly recycle or reuse your waste whenever possible.
Utilize waste monitoring and reporting technology
Once you’ve identified your company’s waste management needs and sustainability goals, it’s important to track your progress. A waste monitoring system allows you to keep an eye on your waste management program and service levels in real time. Better yet, the reporting and analytics provided by the tracking system take the hassle out of your waste management program by making it smarter and more efficient. For example, both the restaurant and retail industries are faced with increased waste output during the holiday season. Reports can be compiled based on this year’s holiday waste output and can be used to build projections for next year so that you can be better prepared.
Many waste monitoring solutions today offer a real-time glimpse into your waste program via a cloud-based dashboard. By logging on you can view key data including equipment fullness status, pickup and return status, pickup history, upcoming scheduled hauls and activity logs. Detailed reports and insights show a variety of key data buckets that will help keep you informed. These can include waste spend, service insights, statistics on tonnage, number of hauls and historical program data. With a waste monitoring system in place, you can better understand your waste spend, ongoing program statistics and service insights. This helps you ensure your program is as efficient and cost effective as it can be, whether you have one or multiple locations.
Consolidate your services
Restaurants are faced with burdens of food safety concerns, local laws and regulations, and food storage and transportation constraints. To resolve issues, handle invoices, manage multilocation challenges and overcome barriers, you should consider partnering with a waste management provider. Working with a managed waste services provider can consolidate your services at all locations so you can have one single point of contact for your waste program. A provider can also assist your sustainability efforts, including recycling, adaptive reuse and management of discarded packaging, organic waste and other materials. Consolidating your services means one vendor, one monthly invoice and one point of contact. The provider manages all key aspects of your waste program — taking the stress off your shoulders so you can spend more time focusing on your business.
Working directly with a waste management provider can help to confirm that all bases are covered when it comes to waste programs in the retail and restaurant industries. Don’t overlook your waste management program, but rather try to involve your provider as much as possible. Optimal efficiency can be achieved at any restaurant or retail location with a well-managed waste program and a responsive service provider.
— Michael Hess is founder and CEO of Waste Harmonics, a Rochester, New York-based company that provides customized waste and recycling management solutions for businesses across North America. Clients include retail, grocery, restaurant, travel center, logistics, distribution and shipping companies. For more information, email [email protected] or visit www.wasteharmonics.com.