What is Circular Economy? Reduce Food Waste and Save Money

What is Circular Economy?

In a previous post, we suggested a few tips to help you reduce the amount of food waste in your kitchen. (If you missed it, check it out HERE.) The restaurant and hospitality industry is in a unique position to have an impact on the environment. According to Andrew Shakeman, CEO of Leanpath (a leading organization in the fight to reduce food waste) “Foodservice has a very different opportunity than a corporate office recycling paper.”  While it’s true that more and more restaurants are becoming aware of the impact their food waste is having on the environment (and their profits), there is still much that can be done. In this article, we explore an important concept of food waste reduction: circular economy.

It’s easier to understand what circular economy is by first looking at what it’s not. The current model of resource consumption in most restaurants is linear: take, make, and dispose. We take what we want, make what we want, and then throw the rest away. Most restaurants operate like an island. They don’t share resources with other segments of the industry once they are done using them. The result of this non-cooperation is a lot of wasted money and resources. Very likely, what you think of as garbage is gold to someone else.

Composting kitchen scraps What you may think of as garbage is gold to someone else.

Circular economy encourages businesses to see the bigger picture- to look at your restaurant as part of a system. You give your unwanted or discarded materials to a business that can use them. That company then reuses your materials to create something you need. By closing the supply loop, your cooperation with that company reduces waste, improves quality or efficiency, and usually saves both companies money. Here are a couple of examples of circular economy practices that are trending in the restaurant industry right now.

Reuse Cooking Oil

Cooking oil is a growing resource that many people do not know can be recycled. Saavy restaurant owners send their used cooking oils to bio-diesel producers. These producers take the used cooking oil and turn it into an environmentally friendly fuel source for the trucks that haul food across the nation. This bio-diesel fuel is a cheaper, cleaner source of fuel that can power most types of freight trucks built after 1993.

As you can see, the loop is closed.  A food truck brings you food, you cook that food and sell it to customers, the waste is sent to a bio-diesel company who creates fuel to power a truck, and that truck brings you more food to cook. All companies benefit and it’s good for the environment. Just imagine, someday in the future, an entire fleet of freight trucks powered by nothing more than used cooking oil.

Circular Economy in the Restaurant Industry Make. Take. Use. Reuse.

Liquid Food Waste

Liquid food waste is more commonly practiced across the nation. The idea of sending your food waste to be composted has been around for decades. You may even live in a part of the country that has the ability to convert discarded food into animal feed. But, thanks to a burgeoning process called anaerobic digestion, the uses for your discarded food scraps are growing. Your waste can now be converted to energy in the form of methane gas, and even natural gas for a cleaner energy source. Plus, as much of food waste is water, current reclamation trends allow clean water to be strained from the waste and pumped back into fields or streams where it is needed.

And, it’s easier than ever to collect your food waste and convert it to a reusable resource. Nearly every community in the country has a local food waste recycling service. Plus, equipment manufacturers are responding to the need for food waste reduction as well. There are a growing number of appliances on the market that are specifically created to help you reduce, reuse, or collect your food waste. Not to mention there are virtually endless resources available to you online. If you’re baffled as to where to start, we recommend checking out Leanpath.com.

And, as always, you can call us at Spokane Restaurant Equipment. We will be happy to provide options, discuss resources, and help you work toward a zero waste kitchen.

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