The general assessment is really just a basic analysis of bills and maybe some actual weighing of food waste bins. This will give an overview of site wide information with little or no specifics about where and when the food waste is actually produced.
Ideally every business should already be doing this as part of good waste management practices. If your business has a brown bin service then this information may already be provided. If not, then you should separate all food waste into separate food waste bins (this is the law) and weigh them before they are removed. From this you will have a rough idea of the weight of food waste being removed.
Using the weight of food waste you are throwing out, you should be able to estimate the annual food waste cost to your business. This is usually a great motivator to address the food waste issue. From this you can then focus on some of the main areas that are generating this waste by doing more detailed food waste assessments.
Remember, even if you have brown bins 15% of your mixed waste may be food waste. By using clear plastic bags for your mixed waste (this is good practice) it makes it easy to check these bags periodically to make sure there is not a lot of food waste going here and your waste management system is working correctly.
If you are paying for waste by lift instead of by weight make sure only the full bins are removed. On examining their brown bin bills, a Limerick City business noted that they were being charged for 8 lifts each week. This was the same for both busy and quiet weeks. The kitchen staff were informed and now only put out full bins for collection. This has resulted in annual savings of 19% on lift charges.
On getting new brown bins for the catering department, a small west of Ireland Hospital were shocked when they filled the 6 bins before the end of the first week. There was almost 0.7 tonnes of food waste being generated weekly. Based on the value that each tonne of food waste can cost between €2,000 and €4,000, the management realised that this could be costing them as much as €2,800 a week. They have since halved their weekly bills through food waste prevention measures.
During a recent general assessment at a Galway supermarket the food waste bins were examined visually. There was a lot of packaged food in them, many of which had passed their display by date but were still within the best before date.
Supermarkets are entitled to sell these goods (usually on deal) as long as customers are informed that the best before date has passed. While this may not be an option for some fruit and veg (e.g. lettuce) for the items shown here (apples, onions and potatoes), it is certainly a good idea. This will potentially bring in an income, reduce the waste bill and give a good deal to customers.