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Waste Less Solutions Introduces Restaurant Certification Program

Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!

On average, we waste one full meals worth of food ever 2.3 days. In a state in which many people are food insecure, discarded edible food is a substantial waste. Food waste is also financially wasteful and uneaten food – especially meat – contributes to a larger carbon footprint. Luckily, Salt Lake City based nonprofit Waste Less Solutions is working to solve the food waste problem. Founder and President Dana Williamson started Waste Less Solutions in 2017 in an effort to reduce food waste in our community. The food rescue program works to divert edible food from donors in the food industry to individuals experiencing food insecurity with the help of receiving agencies including the YWCA, Rescue Mission, and the Boys & Girls Club. To date, Waste Less Solutions has saved 339,048 pounds of food, serving 282,540 meals to underfed community members, and saving $586,533 worth of food.

Scan of a fact sheet on recycled seed paper. Text is in green and orange and black. At the top is a green and orange stripe. Green text reads "DID YOU KNOW" followed by two columns of facts. "If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter after the US and China" 
"Reducing our food waste is the third best solution to reverse greenhouse hases"
"55% of leftover restaurant food doesn't get taken home"
"38% of leftovers taken home aren't eaten"
"Did you know the best way to reheat pizza is in a skillet"
Below the columns reads "when planning your week, plan a leftover night to make sure your leftovers are enjoyed. Create an 'eat first shelf' in your fridge; put your leftovers there so family knows it's something they are encouraged to enjoy."

At the bottom in larger font reads Enjoy Your Leftovers and a orange carrot Waste Less Solutions logo. The bottom of the page reads "This handmade paper is embedded with a hearty mix of wildflower seeds. Plant this card under a thin layer of soil and water thoroughly."

Waste Less Certified

Waste Less Solutions has partnered with many local restaurants who help divert excess edible food to those in need. The program facilitates food rescue with volunteer support to get food from donor to service program. Now, the nonprofit is offering a unique initiative to minimize the occurrence of food waste. The Waste Less Certified Restaurant Certification Program will help individual restaurants reduce their overall food waste while educating the public about the environmental, financial, and social benefits of limiting food waste.

Dana Williamson “In a study by ReFed, for every $1 a restaurant invests in food loss and waste reduction, the average restaurant will realize an $8 Return On Investment.  We want to partner with restaurants to help them realize this ROI while also seizing the opportunity to educate every diner that comes into the restaurants.  That is when we start seeing a huge opportunity to reduce our food waste when we start educating consumers and they start reducing their food waste at home.”

Why Should You Get Certified?

Food waste doesn’t just mean a few extra bags of garbage for the landfill. Aside from discarding a substantial part of the American food supply, wasted food also means wasted water, packaging, and transportation resources. Besides helping to save valuable resources, by participating in Waste Less Certified programs restaurants will be recognized for their efforts to reduce food waste in our community. Waste Less Solutions will list participating businesses on their websites, provide window decals to advertise participation, and celebrate the restaurants in a “restaurant week” event to encourage customers to visit certified restaurants.

Getting your restaurant certified through Waste Less Solutions will help educate the community about the environmental impact of their food choices.

Sarah McClure, marketing director at LUX Catering, is excited about becoming Waste Less Certified: “LUX Catering & Events felt it was incredibly important to become Waste Less Certified in order to continue to contribute to saving our environment, our economy, and our community. Our certification has a ripple effect, it helps everyone around us continue conversations about sustainability, i.e. our clients, our events, our team, etc.”

Photo of circular white window decal with green check mark in the center. Text around the edge of the decal reads "Waste Less Certified."

How to Participate?

Participation will help you cut down on food waste at your restaurant. In order to be certified, you will need to demonstrate that your organization is helping reduce food waste by accomplishing 5 out of 10 actions. These actions include showing measurable improvement in food waste reduction (with the help of Waste Less Solutions), showing evidence of using locally sourced food, increasing the variety of portion sizes, or sending inedible waste to Wasatch Resource Recovery’s anaerobic food digester.

Reducing food waste is a great step in improving your restaurants environmental impact. Learn more about how to participate in the Waste Less Solutions Certification program online at www.wastelesssolutions.org/what-we-do/waste-less-certified/

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