When it comes to doing a food waste assessment the more detail you want, the more time it will take.

The information outlined in the general assessment is your starting point but what you now need is more specific information about where this food waste originates from. To do this you must first identify the main food waste producing areas, or types of waste food in your business. Depending on your type of business the typical food waste generating areas will vary.

Examples of differnt food waste categories

spoils1Once you have identified the main areas or types of food waste you want to investigate, you should collect these food wastes separately. To do this you will need to put dedicated food waste bins in each area. Many may already have them in place but if not there are usually plenty of containers available within businesses for this purpose. In addition to these, there are a few other items that you need. Most you will have already but, if not, you can usually find alternatives easily.

Resources needed

food pile 6At this stage you should have the food waste being separated according to the different areas relevant to your business. Depending on volumes these containers may be emptied at the end of the day or periodically during the day if there is a lot of food waste. In either case, weigh the food waste from each of different bins whenever it is being disposed of to your brown bin and record the information on your recording sheets. By weighing each of these at the end of each meal/day you can quickly identify the main areas or meals of concern. Once you have gathered the information you can use spreadsheets to collate and graph your information. Graphical representations are the easiest way to show these results.


Try and do an assessment for at least 3 days and ideally a week.

In the case of the food service sector (including staff canteens, hospitals, etc.) try to record the number of covers for each meal. this will provide a basis for comparing days of different levels of activity.

Use clear plastic bags so you can see what is in the bins without having to open them up. Explain to staff what and why you are doing and make sure to use signs on the bins (Click here for some sample signs to download).

Beware of liquid food waste going down the drain – often food is reused and made into soups and sauces. If this is happens make sure to include it as it is a waste as well.

The following show results from a number of surveys that provide more information on the source of food wastes.

1. Hotel Survey


The results for a hotel survey are shown above. The first graph looked at the types of wastes only where as the second image outlines the meals that these different types of food waste are generated. From this it is apparent that the unused cooked food for both dinner and lunch should be prioritised as well as the high levels of plate waste, especially at breakfast.


2. Bar/Restaurant Survey

Keenans 1
Keenans 2

The results from examining this bar/restaurant in Co. Roscommon noted that plate scrapings were the highest contributor to their overall food waste. The total waste was then compared to the number of people served (covers) and the results show that for the first 5 days of the survey the food waste per cover was ~0.45kg (this is close to the 0.48kg per cover value that the Sustainable Restaurant Association note as being standard). By the end of the following week, after making some small internal changes, this was down to ~0.3kg per cover.