LeanPath is a technology company based in Portland, OR that provides food waste tracking systems and analytics to help high volume restaurants manage and reduce pre- and post-consumer food waste.
“You have to focus on measurable results if you want to achieve true sustainability. We really need to be measuring much more in our kitchens in terms of energy use, water use and waste generation. You need a baseline to work from. Once you have real data, you have the ability to drive behavior change. That is when you can form and engage teams to address the issues the data helps you identify.”
Distinguish between pre- and post consumer waste. “There's a desire to say, ‘Waste is Waste,’ but they are two very different things. Pre-consumer waste is made of up separate entities: a pan of lasagna; a bain marie of soup. These are items you can measure and track in a detailed way. Post-consumer food waste is co-mingled; it is really food sludge. The data you can extract from it is less specific. A one-size-fits-all approach to managing both types of waste is not appropriate.”
Put a value on the intangible. “Post-consumer waste is tangible. You can see the results — ‘Here we have 2,000 pounds of compost.’
“Pre-consumer waste is more conceptual. You are talking about the absence of something and the only way you can measure it is by tracking results against a baseline. At the same time, the reduction has a high value in terms of food and production costs and in terms of post consumer waste, since there is a cost to disposing of the excess production.
“We know from our clients' data that 4-10 percent of the food purchased in an onsite operation ends up as pre-consumer waste. That means every million dollars of food spend includes between $40-100,000 worth of food that will go in the garbage. A green kitchen is one that also has a strategy for managing and reducing this waste, just like managing any other kitchen operation.”