Food Waste Assessment Tools
The first step in reducing waste is to measure and track the amount, type of, and the source of the food and packaging waste. A food and packaging waste audit serves as the foundation for reduction efforts. Information on the waste type (i.e., bell peppers or chicken breasts) and reason for loss (i.e., over-preparation or improper cooking) is critical to make meaningful changes. By using EPA's food waste assessment tools, food service establishments can:
- Save money by reducing over-purchasing and disposal costs
- Reduce environmental impacts
- Support efforts to eliminate hunger
- Increase tax benefits by donating food; and
- Support community waste reduction efforts.
Food Waste Assessment Guidebook
The first step toward reducing wasted food is to perform an assessment to identify what is actually being thrown away. Retail, food service, and other food management establishments can use the Food Waste Assessment Guidebook (PDF) (26 pp, 1.55 MB)to learn how to do a wasted food assessment. By getting to know what you throw away, you can cut down on disposal costs, reduce purchasing and labor costs, reduce water and energy use associated with food production, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Toolkit for Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging
Food service establishments can use this tool to track the daily amount, type of, and reason for wasted food and packaging with paper logs. Users enter information into the Food and Packaging Waste Prevention Tool (an Excel spreadsheet) that automatically creates graphs and data summaries to help identify patterns of waste generation. Based on these patterns, a business can make strategic changes to their operation.
An accompanying guide, the Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging: A Guide for Food Services and Restaurants (PDF) (23 pp, 1.3 MB, about PDF), provides more information on turning audit results into action to save money and reduce waste.
Note: The tool requires a minimum of two weeks of daily tracking by staff and weekly data entry for best results.
Food Waste Management Cost Calculator
The Excel Food Waste Management Calculator estimates the cost competitiveness of alternatives to food waste disposal, including source reduction, donation, composting, and recycling of yellow grease. The calculator:
- Develops an alternative food waste management scenario based on:
- Your waste profile
- Availability of diversion methods; and
- Preferences, and
- Compares cost estimates for a disposal versus an alternative scenario
The Calculator demonstrates that environmentally and socially responsible food waste management is cost-effective for many facilities and waste streams. The more you know about your current waste management costs, the more accurate the calculators estimate will be, but default values are provided for many variables.
Paper Tracking Waste Logs
You will need to open an Excel file to use the calculator. You will need to enable macros for the calculator to work properly. To ensure that macros are enabled, please go to Tools > Macro > Security and set the security level to Medium. Then close the file. When you open the file again, the software should prompt you to enable macros. Click enable.