Food Waste’s Biggest Losers: The Environment and a Company’s Bottom Line

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In the food manufacturing and food processing industries, food waste is an enormous problem. In fact, it’s not unusual for each major processor and each major manufacturer to throw out at least 200 tons of product each month.

That’s a lot of waste – and a lot of money. Consider this: each ton of food waste is worth about $500 – 750 depending on the industry. That’s $100,000 a month that a large food manufacturer or a large food processor is throwing away.

Unnecessary food waste is also expensive in terms of its negative impact on the environment, which is a big concern to many American consumers. According to EcoWatch, an environmental platform reporting on environmental news and green business, “Rotting food in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. … the release of methane from landfills accounts for 34 percent of all methane emissions in the U.S.” Further, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the U.S. spends more than $1 billion each year to dispose of all its food waste.

Clearly, any company that shows an interest in sustainability can do a lot toward building consumer loyalty as well as save itself a considerable amount of money.

Though waste is, indeed, a big problem among food manufacturers and food processors, there are solutions. First of all, it helps to pinpoint the source(s) of the problem. Plant managers and supervisors can ask: Which shifts are responsible for creating the unnecessary waste? Which personnel? Is there any machinery that’s not performing to specifications? What are the issues at startup? Where is the waste coming from?

To help answer those questions and reduce their waste, companies are using food waste management software, which targets the problem areas. A scale is set up in the customer’s facility, with the waste management software program to track where the waste is coming from. This allows management to identify the source of the problem – and to troubleshoot solutions.

To get the crew to buy into the program, a graphics display may be set up in the break room where everyone can see what’s going on and, therefore, be motivated to do well. In real time, workers can see the waste reduction goals as well as the progress they are making. It helps them see that what they do has a big impact on the company’s goals to reduce food waste, save money and lessen the environmental impact.

Plant managers who also attach incentives to food waste reduction help the crew buy into the program. If the people doing the work can see, first of all, that what they’re doing is creating a lot of unnecessary waste and, secondly, that they can work more efficiently, chances are pretty good that they’ll make the necessary changes, especially if there is a monetary advantage attached to being efficient while being productive. Of course, each plant can implement the incentives they feel will work for their crew. The bottom line here is to gain buy-in across the company, especially those that can make the incremental changes that will reduce waste.

Food waste is a big problem among food processors and food manufacturers. Fortunately for all concerned, the solution is widely available.

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