Topic 3 Methods and monitoring system

Food waste strategy has to be defined based on a food waste assessment. Food waste assessment is important to become aware of your starting point and be able to define your progress. It is also a motivational tool and comes into account in a labelling process.

The whole team has to be informed and involved in the waste assessment process, as well as in the strategy to reduce food waste. Why?

  • Because everyone is participating in the creation and reduction of food waste.
  • Because the more we are, the more ideas can be generated.
  • Because together, they can find the best way to change these habits & stay efficient..
  • Because changing habits implies being convinced, and a good way for that is to be involved in the choices.

Knowing and analyzing what you throw away will make you aware of how you can cut down costs (due to over purchasing, water and energy use associated with food production, disposal cost, etc.), but also prioritize what you can do depending on the benefits and the ease to do it.

Food waste assessment means defining the quantity, the type and the origin of waste generated.

Use a matrix to weigh the type and the origin of waste during a usual week.

There are several tools to conduct food waste assessment, from Excel Matrix to high-tech tools. Several tracking systems exist using software and hardware to track wasted food and identify patterns of waste generation.  In most of them, tracking waste is part of a most comprehensive stock management. Software can also include food costing and recipe management, purchasing and order management and some reporting.

The following video example shows a way to harnesses the power of machine learning to revolutionize food management and address food waste massive economic and environmental costs:

Cost is not only related to the cost of waste disposal but should also include all induced costs to calculate the global cost of food waste. Depending on the results of the waste assessment, a strategy to reduce waste and costs can be defined.

Source: Business & Innovation Center – BIC, 2021.

  • What are the main components of your waste?
  • What are the main origins of your waste?
  • What are the possibilities to avoid creating waste?
  • Could the destination of some part of the waste be changed (compost, donation, sent to farmers for animal feed, etc.)?
  • Keep in mind the food waste recovery hierarchy: reuse > redistribute > recycle.
  • What will be the implication on changing the waste destination (operating tasks, economic interest, etc.)?

For each field that you decide to work on, you will have to define the:
a) Operational process modification, and
b) Indicators to check that modification is applied and to know its impact on food waste reductio.

Source: Zero Waste Strategy (2017)

The action plan is a checklist of the steps you need to complete in order to achieve the goals you have set. Each step includes the:

  • Objective;
  • People who will be in charge of carrying out each task;
  • Time when will the tasks be completed;
  • Resources needed to complete the tasks;
  • Ways the progress will be evaluated.

To define the steps and write your action plan refer to Module 3 and associated tools Action Plan, Circular Action, Circular Brainstorm and Circular Idea Prioritization worksheets.

Depending on the size of your entity, action plan may consist of more or less actions, but no matter the size of it, it has to be seen as a procedure of “failing to plan is planning to fail” (Franklin, n.d.).

Allocate time to monitor your food waste action plan, to evaluate the results, to communicate results within the team and to update it depending on the obtained results