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Conduct a food waste review


Assessing how much food waste your organisation is generating needn't be a complex job.

In the food business, most food waste comes from spoilage, food preparation and leftovers on plates. You need to know:
  • Where is your food waste being generated i.e. is it through purchasing, preparation, cooking, storage, sales or service?
  • How much food waste are you generating in each of these areas, and why?
  • What can you improve?

Before you develop an action plan to reduce food waste, conduct a food waste review to identify the best ways to tackle this issue. You can hire a consultant or contact a Bin Trim Assessor, or you can do it yourself.

You can do a visual check and make notes about the type of food in the bin, how much there is and possible reasons for it being put in the bin. For a more accurate assessment follow the steps below.

Before you conduct a food waste review

  1. Involve your staff. Your review will be more accurate if your employees understand and support your food waste review process and goals.
  2. Advise your waste collection contractor. Some contractors may be able to help, e.g. by recording the weight of your 'Food waste only' bin.
  3. Set up your food waste recording system. The best system for you depends on your business. It can be as simple as setting up a simple column chart or matrix (e.g. a table in Word), or you can use the Bin Trim tool or the Unilever Food Solutions Wise up on Waste mobile app.

Five-step food review

Follow these steps over a two-week period:
  1. Designate a wheelie bin for food waste only and label it with 'Food waste only' stickers. Depending on the size of your business, you may need more than one 'Food waste only' wheelie bin.
  2. Provide three separate food waste bins or suitable containers in the kitchen, or in other convenient locations, and ask your staff to use them to separate: Spoilage: food that is thrown away before it is used, e.g. because it is damaged or has passed its 'use-by' date. Prep waste: waste generated in the food preparation process e.g. peels and trimmings. Plate waste: food that is left on customers' plates.
  3. Each day (or more often if you need to), weigh or measure the volume of each bin or container before emptying it into the 'Food waste only' wheelie bin.
  4. Record the quantities and descriptions on a data recording sheet.
  5. At the end of each week, calculate the total quantity of the food waste generated, and the average proportion of each type of food waste.


  • Check for any rubbish or recyclables in the 'Food waste only' bins. Talk to staff about making sure these materials are put into the correct bins.
  • Also check for any food in the general rubbish bins, and talk to staff about making sure this goes into the 'Food waste only' bins.

Review your performance

  • Use this data as your benchmark. After you have implemented your new food waste avoidance practices, complete another review and compare the new data to your benchmark data.
  • Compare data between seasons to see if there is more waste generated during some periods.
  • Use your food waste data, or waste collection service accounts, to work out how much you have saved from going to landfill.
  • Calculate the greenhouse gas emissions (CO2-e) you have saved. For every tonne of food waste not sent to landfill you have saved 0.9 tonnes CO2-e.
  • Share this information with staff to keep them motivated.
  • Review your performance and work out where you can make improvements.

Promote your results

Actively promote your results on your website, through social media or through in-store advertising. Your local council may also be interested in promoting your new system to other businesses.

The Love Food Hate Waste team is always interested to hear about actions to avoid food waste. If your organisation has a great story, please contact us.


Professional auditing

For a more accurate assessment you could hire a company to do a food waste review, provide in-depth analysis and develop a tailored solution.

You could also take advantage of free advice provided by the NSW Government through programs like Bin Trim or Sustainability Advantage.


More information

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