86 Food Waste series shows operators how it’s done

The National Restaurant Association teams with the World Wildlife Fund to provide practical tips for reducing food waste in operations.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Noticing the amount of bread they were throwing out, employees at the Red Star Tavern in Portland, Ore., brought it up to their managers and chef. The proliferation of gluten-free and low-carb diets was having an effect. The restaurant decided to stop putting out complimentary bread baskets and added bread to the menu for $2. If customers complained, servers were empowered to give them bread for free. Aside from cutting waste, the restaurant saved money by buying less bread and butter and made about $5,000 in bread sales the first year.

Every day, operators look to reduce the amount of food they waste by tracking what they throw out, changing their purchasing practices and reengineering their menus. And there’s so much more that they can do.

The National Restaurant Association, in partnership with the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund and with the support of Tork Essity, has created 86 Food Waste, a series of seven food waste-reduction guides that offer information, tips and links to additional resources on how to reduce waste—both at the restaurant and upstream in the supply chain. The information emphasizes the power of small steps and the big impact they can have on reducing waste and protecting the planet. Waste reduction simultaneously saves the operation money by reducing inventory, spoilage, chronic overproduction and trash hauling. The seven reports are:

  1. Menu Redesign Concepts: Ideas for using scraps or imperfect produce, changing portion sizes and encouraging leftovers to-go to reduce waste.
  2. Donation Guidance: Steps for setting up a donation program in the community and making sure food is handled safely throughout the process. 
  3. Customer Messaging: Focuses on sharing your food waste-reduction commitment with guests.
  4. Procurement Best Practices: A guide on how to work with vendors to limit waste potential before food gets to the restaurant.
  5. Employee Engagement: Teaches how to build food waste awareness and provides exercises to get staff buy-in on reduction efforts.
  6. Diversion Resources: Outlines alternative uses for waste besides sending it to landfills.
  7. Food Waste Self-Audit: Shows how to track and analyze food-waste data.


All of the tips and tools are practical to implement, can improve profitability and won’t impact your customers’ perception of value. In fact, environmental efforts send a good marketing message. For more information on how to fight food waste in restaurants, download these reports free of charge here. 

Join the conversation and help spread the word with the hashtag #86foodwaste.

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