100 Questions to Ask a Restaurant About Food Waste

Food waste is a big problem, causing both financial and environmental damage. A restaurant’s approach to food waste can directly affect its green credentials. So, understanding a restaurant’s strategy against food waste is key to supporting those who are making an effort in sustainability.

Want to know more about a restaurant’s plans for sustainability and waste control? If you’re wondering about their food waste tactics, you’ve come to the right place. No matter if you’re a food lover or owner looking to upgrade your methods, this list of questions covers all from waste handling to staff training. Let’s get started!

Waste Management Practices

  1. How does your restaurant handle food waste?
  2. What are your key strategies for waste reduction?
  3. Could you explain your waste sorting system?
  4. Do you have a system for tracking your restaurant’s waste?
  5. How is waste measured in your restaurant?
  6. What steps does your restaurant take to eliminate waste before it happens?
  7. How often do you audit your waste management process?
  8. How have your waste management strategies evolved over time?
  9. What percentage of your restaurant’s waste would you estimate is food waste?
  10. Do you have any waste reduction goals?
  11. How often do you review waste management strategies?
  12. How do you manage to reduce waste during peak times?
  13. What has been your biggest challenge in managing food waste?
  14. Do you collaborate with any waste management agencies or programs?
  15. What is the process for waste disposal?
  16. How often is waste collected from your facility?
  17. How do you handle leftover food at the end of the day?
  18. Has your food waste decreased over the past year?
  19. What plans do you have for improving your waste management practices in the future?

Food Preparation and Storage

  1. How is food stored to reduce waste?
  2. How are ingredients measured to prevent waste?
  3. How do you utilize ‘ugly’ produce that may not look perfect but is still edible?
  4. How does your kitchen minimize waste during food preparation?
  5. How does your inventory management system work to prevent waste?
  6. How do you ensure food safety while minimizing waste?
  7. How often do you take stock of your inventories?
  8. Do you employ measures like batch cooking to avoid food wastage?
  9. How do you handle excess ingredients?
  10. How is the freshness of food items maintained to avoid waste?
  11. Do you have dedicated staff for managing inventory?
  12. How do you manage food preservation?
  13. What happens to the unused ingredients after cooking?
  14. Do you have a contingency plan for unused ingredients?
  15. How do you minimize waste in food packaging?
  16. Is there a system to handle perishable items?
  17. How does the restaurant manage leftover ingredients?
  18. Is there a process for using or discarding food nearing its expiration date?
  19. What are the procedures when food items are over-ordered?
  20. What is the restaurant’s policy on food handling and preparation to avert waste?
  21. Are food storage methods periodically reviewed to avoid wastage?

Portion Sizes and Plate Waste

  1. How do you decide on the portion sizes to minimize food waste?
  2. What strategies do you use to reduce plate waste?
  3. Do you offer multiple portion sizes for your dishes?
  4. Do you allow customers to customize their meal portions?
  5. Has there been customer feedback concerning portion sizes?
  6. What is your restaurant’s strategy for developing a no-leftover culture among its customers?
  7. What is your policy on serving leftovers?
  8. How much of your food waste comes from customer leftovers?
  9. How do you handle the food left behind on plates?
  10. How do you manage to curb waste during buffets?
  11. How much plate waste have you managed to reduce over time?
  12. Do you encourage customers to take leftovers home?
  13. Are there any plans to further reduce plate waste?
  14. Do you adjust portion sizes based on the time of day or week to reduce waste?
  15. Have there been adjustments in the menu or serving sizes to promote waste reduction?
  16. What are common leftovers and how are you addressing this?
  17. What are the plans for further optimizing portion sizes?
  18. How do you handle food waste from tasting menus or set meals?
  19. Has the restaurant considered implementing a clean plate program?
  20. Do you use smaller dishes or plates to reduce waste?

Recycling and Composting

  1. What percentage of your restaurant’s waste is compostable?
  2. Do you have a system for composting organic waste in your restaurant?
  3. Are there facilities for recycling waste within your restaurant?
  4. How are recyclables sorted in your restaurant?
  5. How do you handle the recycling of cooking oil?
  6. Are compostable and recyclable materials clearly labeled and separated?
  7. What efforts are made to reduce, reuse, and recycle food packaging?
  8. How is your restaurant contributing to the circular economy?
  9. Are there any plans to improve your recycling efforts?
  10. What happens to waste that cannot be composted or recycled?
  11. What is done with your restaurant’s composting material?
  12. How are staff trained to ensure recycling is carried out?
  13. Are there any relationships with local recycling or composting facilities?
  14. Does the restaurant take any steps to reduce non-recyclable waste?
  15. Are there initiatives to improve composting in the future?
  16. What steps are taken to recycle or compost food leftovers?
  17. How do you handle the recycling of used beverage containers?
  18. What systems or technology are used to aid in composting?
  19. Does the restaurant have any partnerships for composting food waste?
  20. Is the restaurant reducing its use of non-recyclable materials?

Staff Training on Waste

  1. How is staff educated about waste reduction?
  2. How often is waste management training carried out for staff?
  3. Is waste reduction part of the training for every new hire?
  4. How is staff engaged in achieving waste reduction goals?
  5. How are kitchen staff trained to best utilize ingredients and reduce waste?
  6. How do you encourage staff to come up with waste reduction ideas?
  7. Are there rewards or incentives for staff who perform well in waste reduction?
  8. Are there staff members assigned to oversee waste management?
  9. What are the biggest wastes identified by staff?
  10. Do you have specific training for different staff roles regarding waste?
  11. Is there a clear communication channel for staff ideas regarding waste reduction?
  12. How often is staff training updated to keep up with new waste reduction methods?
  13. How does the restaurant ensure sponsorship from management for staff training?
  14. Are there key performance indicators for staff regarding waste management?
  15. How are the performance measures related to waste reduction communicated to the staff?
  16. Is there a staff engagement plan to keep waste reduction a priority?
  17. How is staff feedback incorporated into waste reduction plans?
  18. Are cleaning staff trained in handling and sorting waste?
  19. What is the role of staff in waste audits?
  20. Do you use staff feedback to improve waste management strategies?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do restaurants measure food waste?

Restaurants typically use three methods to measure food waste: weight, volume, and percentage.

• Weighing food waste is the most accurate method, but it’s not always practical, especially in commercial kitchens.
• Measuring food waste by volume is less accurate than weighing, but more practical for large kitchens.
• The third method, measuring food waste as a percentage of total sales, is the least accurate, but also the easiest.

What is the cause of food waste in a business?

Food waste can be caused by many things in a business. Spoilage, overproduction, improper handling, and incorrect ordering are some of the most common causes.

What are the impacts of food waste?

Food waste has a number of impacts on society and the environment. For one, food waste consumes valuable resources that could be used to produce food for hungry people.

In addition, food waste produces methane gas, which is a potent greenhouse gas. Food waste also pollutes our water and soil.

Final Thoughts

Reducing food waste is a complex issue, but it’s one we can all make progress on by asking questions and holding businesses accountable.

Next time you visit your favorite restaurant, ask them about their food waste practices. They may not have all the answers yet, but every journey starts with a single step. Who knows—maybe you can help them take that first step toward becoming a more sustainable business!

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Jessa Claire is a registered healthcare provider. Music lover. Daydreamer. Thalassophile. Foodie. A hardworking Capricorn. Most days, an incurable empath. An old soul. Down-to-earth. Vibrant. When she's not writing, she can be seen relaxing with headphones on or engrossed in her favorite fan fiction book.