3 Ways to Cut Waste Back-of-House
Written in partnership with Restaurant Business Magazine
Focusing on sustainable practices is no longer an option for restaurant operators. With increasing concern from consumers, operators have felt pressure to work harder to ensure their restaurants are making moves to cut back on waste as well as enact processes that are better for the environment.
For instance, according to Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating report, 53% of consumers would like restaurants to be more transparent about what’s in their menu items. From local sourcing to organic ingredients, diners are increasingly requesting sustainable options.
But sustainability also stretches beyond the menu and into restaurant operations by engaging in practices that limit water usage, prevent food waste and help with sustainability back-of-house. Here are three ways that operators can cut waste to increase sustainability, save money and reduce labor.
1) Use stainless steel portion control pumps for condiments and sauces
It might not seem like it, but condiment and sauce use can involve a lot of waste. Consumers’ desire to customize their dishes with a variety of toppings means that using individual bottles can get cumbersome quickly. Buying in bulk is one solution, but even with proper storage, contamination and quality can be an issue, especially at the bottom of the container. Portioning sauces and condiments back-of-house can minimize waste at the table and save money, too. Using portion cups or ramekins can also prevent lost money from over-portioning at the table or customer pilfering.
Additionally, using stainless steel portion control pumps can help. By optimizing portion size with a series of gauging collars, kitchens can deliver consistent portion control which will reduce waste and save money by lowering the cost per serving. Furthermore, these pumps can reduce labor. Less staff time is needed to dispense from a pump than to get new containers, scoop out the product and clean up potential spills.
2) Replace perpetual-flow dipper well sinks to limit water consumption and conserve energy
Perpetual-flow dipper well sinks, often used to place utensils for quick cleaning between uses, can waste a lot of energy and water. Replacing them with water-conserving dipper wells means utensils are still protected from bacteria growth and held at a safe temperature, but with optimally timed water changeouts, less water is used. In fact, one water-conserving dipper well can save up to 250,000 gallons of water per year and over $2,800. This simple fix saves water, energy and money—what’s not to love, both from a business standpoint as well as from a sustainability standpoint?
3) Buy ingredients in bulk to reduce packaging waste
Buying in bulk and using specialized dispensers for portioning other ingredients can help reduce packaging waste. Dry dispensers for foods such as cereals, candy, nuts and more, as well as sweetener and seasoning dispensers, make it easier to dispense the same portion every time, thereby saving on food costs from recipe discrepancy and reducing food and packaging waste. By storing these products in dispensers that help maintain optimal freshness, ingredients don’t have to be prematurely thrown away, and fewer boxes and bags have to be tossed.
By implementing small changes such as these in the back-of-the-house, operators can save money and time, as well as reduce their waste of water, food and labor. Best of all, promoting these sustainability efforts can improve consumer perception of the restaurant’s value—Technomic’s 2017 Value & Pricing report found that 53% of consumers say it’s important for restaurants to have environmentally friendly practices in place. For operators, it’s a win-win solution.