Food Waste ROI: Businesses Get High Returns For Addressing Organics

Food waste ROI: Businesses can make a big impact on waste by addressing food waste

Around the world, businesses are increasingly being pressured by rising waste costs, public opinion, or by law to take action on food waste. Rather than seeing it as a problem, businesses should seize the opportunity to invest in food waste reduction efforts because the ROI, or returns on investment, can be high.

What’s the food waste ROI?

  • On average, restaurants save $7 for every $1 invested in food waste reduction, according to a study by Champions 12.3, while most businesses see a 14-fold or greater return on investment.
  • In addition, the ReFED Roadmap estimates that restaurants and food service providers in particular can tap into a large profit opportunity of $1.6 billion annually

Food waste is a problem every business has to deal with, not just those in the hospitality industry. Every business or building has food waste from events, cafeterias, pantries, or from the food employees or tenants bring into the workplace.

In fact, a recent study revealed that a large portion of the trash stream of most commercial buildings is made up of organics, which is heavy. Most businesses are paying a high price to discard organics when that material can be diverted from the landfill.

Here’s the data from the largest and most comprehensive waste characterization study to date focused on commercial buildings, completed by Great Forest and published in 2022. 

  • A staggering 62 percent of commercial trash is NOT trash at all but is made up of divertable materials, with organics (including food waste) being the BIGGEST component at 36 percent.
  • The study confirms that organics is the BIGGEST missed opportunity. Businesses can remove the largest portion of divertable material from their trash streams… if they addressed organics.

The bottom line? Investing in reducing food waste is a good business decision. What can businesses do?

How To Reap Rewards Of High Food Waste ROI

  1. Conduct a waste audit to confirm how much organics is in your trash and get other valuable insight into what your business is paying to discard.
  2. Design a program that addresses the kind of organic waste your business has to deal with. Read our guide to organics for businesses and organizations to learn more costs and other FAQ.
  3. Donate excess, edible food to divert it from the landfill. Here’s how businesses, especially restaurants, can reduce food waste and fight hunger at the same time!
  4. Look for ways to reduce food waste in the first place; re-examine your purchasing practices. For example, one hotel started ordering headless pineapples, which fit eight pieces instead of six regular pineapples per shipping carton. In addition to a decreased carbon footprint from the reduced weight and fuel needed to transport the boxes, the kitchen also decreased its fresh waste by 1.1 ton throughout the year.

Learn more:

Is a Digester the Answer?
What A Food Waste Audit At A National Restaurant Chain Revealed


Photo: Lewis Fagg, Unsplash


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