FAO in North America

A Savvy Solution to Fighting Food Waste

Submitted by OliviaEvans on June 14, 2013

Each year, US restaurants throw away up to 10 percent of the food they buy before it even reaches a customer’s plate. This pre-consumer food waste accounts for an estimated $8-20 billion in industry losses each year.

There’s a lot of talk about food waste these days, but few tech-savvy solutions have actually figured how to stop it. That is where LeanPath, an automated food waste tracking system, comes in. LeanPath’s innovative software has helped more than 150 universities around the country cut their foodprints and save thousands of dollars annually. Just a year after its launch at UMass Amherst, the college’s dining halls saved $300,000. That’s 24 tons of food scraps–the equivalent weight of 25 elephants. With grand success in schools, LeanPath has now gone on to be implemented in lux hotels like the MGM Las Vegas, and even in Mario Batali’s Lupa Osteria Romana in New York.

So how does it work? The software, surprisingly, is really quite simple. Food providers install a scale and touch screen unit next to the main kitchen trash. Before food is discarded, workers record the type of food that’s being tossed and why. The system then generates a dollar amount for how much food was just lost. “It’s like a cash register for food waste,” says developer Andrew Shakman, “it’s not rocket science.”

LeanPath is key to cutting food waste because it allows food providers to see where exactly they are over purchasing, letting their products spoil, or cutting excess trim. The system starts at about $5,000 a pop, but for the $300,000 plus saved annually it is certainly a worthwhile investment.

Think your institution is ready to sign up? Learn more about the successes of LeanPath, and weigh in on fighting food waste.

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