| Reduce Packaging Waste
Reduce General Waste
Reduce Office Waste
Waste Prevention Worksheet
Household Hazardous Waste
The best way to avoid problems of dealing with
excessive waste is to avoid producing it in the first place.
to "use less" and "use it again" will
save money for your business, both in purchasing and in
Although waste prevention is a relatively new area, experts
predict that its potential for reducing waste may be greater
Click the topics for some ideas to get you started. To
expand on them, we recommend you establish a Waste Prevention
Team. Your employees and managers are best positioned to
come up with creative ideas for cutting waste at its source.
The team should start with the waste audit to determine
the types and quantities of trash being generated. Then
they can identify opportunities for waste prevention and
establish a baseline for measuring results. The waste audit
(and a check into their own waste cans) will arm the team
with the knowledge they need to create ideas for less trash.
Use the team to educate all your employees. Also, get them
involved in formulating and implementing waste prevention
ideas. Rewarding them regularly for their ideas and efforts
will give them all the more reason to sustain and improve
Reduce Packaging Waste
- Buy in bulk.
- Ask suppliers to minimize packaging.
- Request orders be shipped in returnable packaging.
- Reuse incoming packaging (bags, boxes, peanuts) to
package goods for your customers.
- Use newspaper and shredded paper from offices for packing
- Return, reuse, repair wood pallets.
Reduce General Waste
- Use washable, reusable plates, cups, utensils.
- Use rechargeable batteries.
- Buy equipment with extended warranties.
- Repair instead of replacing.
- Buy remanufactured equipment.
- Donate obsolete or unwanted equipment to the Salvation
Army, Goodwill, or other charity or non-profit organizations.
- A company receiving large rolls of paper wrapped in
substantial amounts of plastic found a plastic bag manufacturer
interested in the wrapping.
- A ceramics packaging firm purchases the paper left over
from a newspaper printing process.
Reduce Office Waste
Ideas that save paper:
- Post office announcements in central locations.
- Share and circulate documents.
- Set up central filing systems.
- Reformat faxes to omit cover sheets.
- Edit on the computer before printing.
- Store files on computer disks, rather than printing
a hard copy.
- Use small pieces of paper for short memos.
- Single space documents, where possible.
- Set margins narrower for drafts.
- Change margins to avoid pages with little text.
- Use smaller typeface.
- Screen your mailing lists to avoid duplication.
- Print rough drafts and informal memos on the unused
side of paper that would otherwise be thrown out.
- Use two-way envelopes for billing purposes.
- Use narrow-lined pads.
- Reuse draft and computer paper for notes and scrap paper.
- Use generic, rather than personalized, stationery (more
people can use it, and it never gets outdated)
Equipment that reduces waste:
- Laser printers that print on both sides of a page.
- Photocopiers that print on both sides of a page.
- Computer fax software that allows you to fax documents
without first printing it out.
- Plain paper fax machines.
- Waste-reducing supplies:
- Refill laser cartridges and re-ink typewriter ribbons.
- Reuse envelopes for interoffice mail.
- Refillable tape dispensers.
- Electronic calendars.
- Switch to longer lasting, more energy efficient light
bulbs (compact fluorescent bulbs).
- Purchase cleaning products with nontoxic contents in
large reusable containers.
- Use roll towels instead of C-fold towels (people tend
to use less paper with a roll towel system).
- Install reusable air filters in your buildings
heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems.
- Compost/mulch yard waste and/or simply leave grass clippings
on the lawns.
- Relocate, replant trees and shrubs.
- Ask your customers if they need a bag - dont automatically
give them one.
- Set out incoming bags and boxes as containers for your
customers to use.
- Offer a discount to customers who bring their own shopping
- Encourage your suppliers and request that they consider
the feasibility of reducing the amount of packaging they
Use reusable shipping pallets/containers for products shipped
to frequent customers. Pick them up next time you make a
- Donate to community charities: soap, toilet tissue,
linen and hangers that are no longer suitable for guest
- Use liquid soap and shampoo dispensers in guest rooms.
- Reduce the number of magazine copies in guest rooms.
- Provide daily newspapers to guests on request only.
- Offer outdated equipment, drapes, furniture and carpeting
for resale, or donate to charities.
- Remake torn or worn linens into other smaller usable
items (e.g., sheets into pillowcases).
These ideas originate from many tried and true programs
dealing with reducing restaurant operating costs. In many
instances, your restaurant may already use one or more of
- Ask that your purveyor's representatives keep you informed
of new and existing products with minimal packaging.
- Ask your purveyor to take back the shipping boxes for
reuse or recycling.
- If you serve carbonated beverages from a beverage gun
or dispenser (i.e., post-mix), ask for (if space permits)
reusable syrup canisters, rather than the bag-in-the-box
- Buy and use dispenser beverages (e.g., juice, iced tea,
hot chocolate) in concentrate or bulk form.
- Similarly, buy milk in the 5-gal. dispenser box, rather
than the half-gallon carton.
- Buy bar mixes in concentrate form, reconstitute and
portion them into reusable serving containers, rather
than using ready-to-use mix.
- Use condiment bottles and refill them from condiments
purchased in bulk containers.
- Use health department-approved, refillable condiment
dispensers whenever possible (e.g., cream for coffee,
ketchup, etc.) instead of individual packets.
- Consider buying pickles, mayonnaise, salad dressings,
etc., in containers other than the hard plastic pails
and buckets. Almost all are available in other containers,
including plastic-lined cardboard, cry-o-vac, or foil
pouches. Alternatively, try returning the containers to
- Consider buying eggs shelled in bulk if your egg usage
for general cooking is 3 or more cases per week. Not only
will it increase your yield (up to 30% of the egg white
stays with the shell when raw eggs are shelled manually),
but will eliminate broken eggs in the cooler and having
to dispose of the shells and boxes.
- Buy shelf-stable food supplies in bulk or concentrate
whenever sales volumes and storage space justify it. This
minimizes unnecessary packaging and can cost less on a
per unit basis, too.
- Purchase fewer cleaning products. Buy multi-purpose
cleaners that can be used for all types of surfaces, rather
than buying different cleaners. Consider buying cleaning
agents that are either the least toxic or non-toxic in
- Serve straws from health department-approved dispensers,
rather than offering them pre-wrapped. At the same time,
consider purchasing straws with a smaller hole size or
thickness, rather than the ones you are currently using.
- Use reusable coasters (or nothing at all), instead of
paper napkins when serving beverages from the bar.
- Use roll-type paper towels in your restrooms and at
hand sinks, instead of pre-cut towels. Better yet, consider
using hot-air hand dryers or cloth roll dispensers.
Product Handling & Storage
- Refuse to accept damaged produce. Check your produce
deliveries carefully for rotten or damaged products.
- Clean coolers and freezers (reach-ins and walk-ins)
regularly. Ensure that food has not fallen behind the
shelves and spoiled.
- Watch your storage practices. Store raw vegetables and
other perishables in reusable airtight containers to prevent
unnecessary dehydration and spoilage. Also store produce
(especially leafy vegetables) as far away from the condenser
unit as possible to prevent freezing.
- Store and/or handle unwrapped paper supplies (e.g.,
drink cups, napkins, bags) carefully to prevent the products
from inadvertently falling onto the floor.
- Donate unused food to an area food bank.
- Package your waste well. Consider using plastic trash
liners made of recycled HDPE (plastics labeled #2), instead
of ones made of LDPE or LLDPE. They contain less raw materials,
work equally well (or better) for most uses, and generally
cost less. Look for recycled bags with post-consumer
Food Preparation and Storage
- Evaluate and adjust the size of your meal portions,
if you find they are consistently being returned unfinished.
- Pre-cool steam table hot foods (in an ice bath) before
placing them in the cooler. Similarly, always place hot
foods into clean, shallow containers before storing in
the cooler. This helps prevent premature spoilage and
keeps your cooler from working overtime to keep things
Production and Service Areas
- Develop and maintain a monthly cleaning and maintenance
program for all your equipment.
- Keep refrigeration in good running order to prevent
unnecessary spoilage resulting from broken equipment.
This also extends the life of the compressors and reduces
energy costs as well.
- Check the syrup-to-water (Brix) calibrator on your beverage
dispenser at least twice a week. Similarly, clean the
heads and dispenser tips on all of your beverage machines
daily. This helps ensure consistent beverage production
quality and quantity.
- Use a test kit supplied by your grocery distributor
(rather than eyeballing it) to determine whether to change
your fryer oil.
- Have employees use permanent-ware mugs or cups for their
- Place rubber mats around bus and dishwashing stations
to further reduce china and glass breakage. This also
minimizes injury resulting from slippage.
- Distribute condiments and napkins from behind the counter,
instead of offering them self-serve. Train your staff
to offer a predetermined quantity for each customer.
- Use serving containers in sizes that meet the packaging
needs of your menu items, without having excess packaging
- Minimize the use of unnecessary extra packaging (e.g.,
double wrapping, double bagging, etc.) of take-out foods.
Establish packaging standards for every menu item and
let your staff know that it's important to follow them.
Remember, every extra bag or piece of wrap that they use
is money out of your pocket and more garbage in the dumpster.
Ideas excerpted from "Food For Thought: San Francisco Restaurants'
Guide to Waste Reduction and Recycling," City and County
of San Francisco Recycling Program, 1992.
See tips for preventing household
Waste Prevention Worksheet
Circulate a worksheet based on the sample below among your
employees or waste prevention team to solicit ideas for
reducing everyday waste. Once it has been completed, each
option can be evaluated for economic feasibility. In the
right-hand column labeled "Potential Savings," you can factor
in savings from lower disposal costs (less waste generates
less need to remove it) and lower purchasing levels (reducing
consumption by reusing items, such as paper, or by substituting
disposable items for comparable non-disposable items, such
as mugs for styrofoam cups).
Waste Prevention Options