Zero Waste in gastronomy

As a concept, Zero Waste is gaining importance due to an increasing awareness of sustainability and environmental protection. The gastronomy industry can also reduce and avoid packaging waste and food waste. Here, we show you the challenges in implementation and the measures to establish the concept in your business in the long term.

Zero Waste - Waste Avoidance, Environmental Protection

Zero Waste aims to minimize packaging waste and food waste. For individuals, Zero Waste involves questioning their own behavior when buying packaging and handling food. Companies and institutions are also called upon to rethink and act, including the entire society. Especially gastronomic establishments, supermarkets, canteens, caterers, and other gastronomic companies can sustainably influence due to the interaction between food consumption and waste production. This works with the implementation of the so-called 5 Rs, which summarize the principle of Zero Waste: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot.

The meaning of the 5 Rs of Zero Waste: 

  • Refuse: By consciously refusing unnecessary packaging, waste production can be prevented from the outset. In gastronomy, this is not always possible. But nowadays, many suppliers and wholesalers offer plastic-free alternatives. 
  • Reduce: This involves reducing waste and food waste, for example, by avoiding unnecessary packaging. 
  • Reuse: By reusing items or packaging, waste generation is avoided, and resources are conserved. In gastronomy, this principle also works in the establishment with the integration of second-hand furniture or the upcycling of wooden crates. 
  • Recycle: Proper separation and disposal of waste are important steps in the Zero Waste concept. Recyclable materials such as glass, paper, plastic, and metal can be collected and recycled. In our blog, you can learn more about sorting instructions for waste disposal.
  • Rot: Composting organic waste such as fruit and vegetable residues returns valuable nutrients to the soil and supports natural cycles from there. In our blog post on compostability, you can find more information.

Zero Waste in your gastronomy business

Can a restaurant operate without producing any waste at all? Admittedly, it sounds utopian. But with small changes, you can achieve big goals in the long run. Zero Waste starts in the kitchen. Plan your purchases well, align them seasonally, and prioritize local suppliers and organic products. By implementing the 5 Rs, you can reduce environmental impact and resource wastage, inspiring your guests with your commitment to climate protection to adopt a more conscientious approach to the environment.

Implementing waste-reducing measures in gastronomy is a challenge. Here are some ideas to inspire you:

  • Sugar, Milk & Cookies: Avoid individually packaged sugar and milk servings for tea and coffee. Serve cookies unpackaged and store them in glass containers.
  • Towels & Soap: Liquid soap requires more packaging than solid soap, consumes more preservatives, and also involves higher transportation costs. Installing a dry soap dispenser can help save on these. Cloth towel dispensers also reduce paper waste.
  • Napkins: Napkins made from recycled materials are sustainable alternatives and contribute to waste reduction. By providing napkin collection containers, your guests can take them as needed without you having to distribute them separately.
  • Utilize Upcycling: Turn something old into something new with a clear statement for sustainability. This works just as well with plastic waste, which can be used for workwear such as chef aprons, as it does with used furniture for your interior design.
  • Sustainable Packaging Solutions: Source unpackaged foods whenever possible or use reusable containers. You can also offer these to your guests.

Reusable Packaging and Reducing the Carbon Footprint

According to NABU, environmentally friendly reusable solutions must become economically viable in the future to establish themselves as a practical everyday alternative. Especially reusable take-away packaging can not only efficiently contribute to waste reduction compared to disposable items but also have the potential to reduce the carbon footprint if return systems are properly implemented. This was revealed in the study 'Assessing Climate Impact: Reusable Systems vs. Single-Use Takeaway Packaging' published by Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) in September 2023. Greenhouse gas emissions from common take-away packaging were compared with disposable and reusable systems. According to the study, reusable packaging, excluding pizza boxes, has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions.

Reusable packaging offers sustainable alternatives to waste-producing disposable packaging because they can be used multiple times, conserving resources. By providing reusable packaging, you signal a sustainable mindset and can inspire your guests to embrace environmentally friendly packaging solutions! Whether as an alternative take-away option or at the salad bar in supermarkets, for take-out in restaurants, or in zero-waste stores – reusable packaging is simply the more eco-friendly choice. For easy integration into your gastronomy business for lending reusable containers, we offer the free reusable app without rental fees or container obligation. In our assortment, you'll find a variety of products such as cups, boxes, bowls, utensils, and lids from our Häppy Family range in the reusable section. The bowls, boxes, cups, and lids can be conveniently nested and stacked. All products are available in different sizes, designs, and colors.

Zero Waste with Food Waste and Disposal

Inevitably, large amounts of food waste are generated, especially in gastronomy, catering, supermarkets, and other food-related businesses. However, they don't necessarily have to be disposed of permanently. We'll show you alternative solutions for dealing with food waste.

  • Enter into partnerships: Leftover food doesn't have to go to waste. You can collaborate with companies like Too Good To Go or to rescue food before disposal.
  • Arrange for organic waste collection: Organic waste collection is cheaper than disposal through regular waste. Inquire with your local waste management company.
  • Reuse waste: Since used cooking oil and grease shouldn't go down the drain, you can arrange for a waste disposal company to collect them, where they can be converted into biodiesel and used for heating in combined heat and power plants. You may even get paid for this service.
  • Save water: You can save water by not rinsing plastic containers before disposal.
  • Tap water: In Germany, tap water is of very good quality and is therefore preferable to bottled water from waste reduction and environmental perspectives. Optionally, investing in a drink dispensing system can be beneficial.
  • Buy recycled products: When purchasing items, look for unbleached products made from recycled materials.
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