Sustainability 101

Food Waste: Facts and Solutions
Businesses Get High Returns For Addressing Organics

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 returns can be high.

On average, businesses save $7 for every $1 invested in food waste reduction, according to a study by Champions 1,2,3. That’s a seven-fold return on investment!

While the study focused on 114 restaurants across 12 countries, food waste is a problem every business has to deal with, not just those in the hospitality industry. Every business or building has waste from cafeterias or from the food employees or tenants bring into the workplace. Organics (including food waste) make up the largest component of most business waste:

  • In August 2021, Great Forest completed the largest and most comprehensive waste characterization study to date focused on commercial buildings. Data gathered from waste audits conducted at over 100 buildings across the US and internationally, analyzing over 170,000 pounds of waste, revealed that organics make up 36% of what is found in most business trash. 
  • In fact, organic materials make up the single largest component of  U.S. municipal solid waste, and accounts for a significant portion of U.S. methane emissions, according to the US EPA.

The bottom line? Businesses must address food waste to cut costs and get to Zero Waste. What should businesses do?


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.


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.


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!


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.


See our case studies:
Is a Digester the Answer?
What A Food Waste Audit At A National Restaurant Chain Revealed


Photo: Lewis Fagg, Unsplash


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