Reducing Waste Through LeanPath

Author: Cheryl Bauer

What is LeanPath you might ask? LeanPath is a food waste prevention tool Campus Dining started using last November to help calculate and control the amount of our food that was ending up in landfills. By having employees take pictures of the leftover food, choosing what type of food it is, and weighing the food, we are able to draw many conclusions.  

Initially, we set the baseline on our waste over a 6-week timeframe. LeanPath then looked at the data and helped us to set waste reduction goals in problematic areas. Since we started measuring against our baseline (January through June), we prevented 76,627 pounds of food from being thrown out, which is a 39.3% reduction of pre-consumer waste—equal to 7.7 elephants! This process also reduced our CO2 emissions by an amount equivalent to using 3,247 gallons of gas. 

Throughout the process we have broken down the waste into two different categories, Pre-Consumer, and Post-Consumer. Pre-Consumer waste is any food that can no longer be used due to issues dealing with temperature concerns or quality concerns after a shift. If the product will not be considered safe, or if the quality will suffer from reheating, we need to throw it out. Post-Consumer is any product which a customer has touched. This could be a pan of food on a service line, or the leftover food from a plate. All of this has been done by paying attention to our pre-consumer waste.  

As we continue to work with LeanPath, we will seek to record and reduce Post-Consumer Waste. Stay tuned for more updates on this process. In the interim, suggestions regarding how we may reduce even more waste are always welcome!