A solution for the billions of pounds of wasted food in the restaurant industry could be as easy as three clicks on a touch screen. LeanPath's WasteLOGGER is a new software that minimizes pre-consumer food waste for restaurants, caterers and hotels.
Commercially available this summer, the PC-based software could save businesses up to 4 percent on food purchases by tracking pre-consumer items - food that has been dropped, burned, spoiled or expired. The system, however, does not take into account leftover food from diners.
The touch screen terminal and scale is placed in a centralized location in the kitchen. Before tossing food waste, employees simply place the item on the scale, log in, identify the food and select the reason for tossing.
Each food has an assigned cost-per-pound value. In seconds, the system delivers the dollar amount of the items, giving both employees and managers an on-site, tangible report of what they're throwing away.
“The EPA’s food waste management hierarchy prioritizes source reduction as the critical first step and best practice in food waste management” says Andrew Shakman, president and co-founder of LeanPath, Inc. “And the key to source reduction is daily food waste tracking – without daily information you have no way to diagnose food waste, create awareness or begin to measure progress.”
While the system may sound like an inconvenient extra step in a bustling kitchen, LeanPath estimates that each transaction takes about 5-10 seconds, totaling a weighing time of 2-3 minutes per employee over a full week. Managers can expect to spend 10-15 minutes per week to collect, print and post reports.
An estimated 100 billion pounds of food – about 3,000 per second – is wasted each year in the U.S., according to the U.S. EPA. Food waste losses account for up to $100 billion per year; $30-40 billion occurring within the commercial or retail sector and $20 billion from farming and food processing.
WasteLOGGER is ideal for small to medium-sized restaurants, as its software can run on existing computers and does not require specialized tracking equipment.
For restaurants that are not yet ready to implement these types of systems, the EPA offers a Food Management Waste Cost Calculator free of charge. The calculator estimates the cost competitiveness of alternatives to food waste disposal, including source reduction, donation, composting and recycling.