Reduce business costs by eliminating food waste

For business unnecessary waste equals lost revenue, something that makes any effort to reduce this waste worthwhile. A subject that is receiving a great deal of attention recently is the topic of food waste. There are many reasons for this attention, one of which is the sheer volume of the problem. An estimated six million tonnes of solid food goes to waste every year in Canada at costs estimated to be in excess of a million dollars.

So, what does this mean to small business? Food waste is heavy, and therefore expensive to dispose of. Food itself is costly, and it seems prices are on a continuous upward climb. On top of this, it costs money to have staff prepare the food.

Notwithstanding economic losses related to purchasing, labour, irrigation, fertilization, transportation, land use, and processing of unconsumed food, environmental costs are significant. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN– “the later a food product is lost along the chain, the greater the environmental consequences” because of the accumulation of resources that has gone into growth, production, transportation etc.  When food is used and consumed, that is one thing: but when food is produced simply to go to waste, something must change. For a more in-depth discussion of this issue, this Environment 360 article provides a good overview.

The first step to reducing waste is to identify where food is being wasted: Are portion sizes too large? Is produce being over-trimmed and edible food going into the garbage? Is food spoiling before it can be used? Finding the answers to these questions can help you create a plan to make sure waste is eliminated. Once the source of the problem is clear, there are many resources available to help food service providers determine how to proceed.

As a result of the increased attention given to this issue, many organizations have created free resources. A number of  third-party resources are listed on the Explore Lake Simcoe website and can be found in the Green Resources section, under Waste Management. Resources range from quick tracking tools or calculators, to articles containing a variety of suggestions, to sector-specific toolkits. If you are interested in working with the Explore Lake Simcoe project to find efficiencies and to reduce waste in your business both for the benefit of the environment and your bottom line, please contact our project coordinator at

As you strive to reduce food waste at your organization, keep this in mind:

About The AuthorAileen MacMillan holds an Honours Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Waterloo, and has worked as an independent consultant on environmental projects related to waste management, water quality protection, and environmental education. She has many years of experience working in small business and working collaboratively with teams and individual stakeholders.

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