Hotels and restaurants can save money and reduce waste by donating edible food to disadvantaged communities to help reduce hunger; and by including waste prevention and recycling programs. Proper purchasing, handling, and careful food preparation and storage are fundamental to these efforts.

Model Programs

  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, located in Chico, manages food waste and residuals left over from brewing a variety of beer. Their on-site food waste project uses a HotRot Vessel Composting System, which composts organic waste generated at the restaurant. Finished compost is used on the company’s hop field, restaurant garden, and employee garden area. Spent grain and yeast is recovered and used as a supplement for cattle and dairies in the Chico area. The company has received 11 WRAP awards.
  • The Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina is diverting over 80 percent of its waste to the Miramar Greenery compost facility. The hotel has 1,053 guest rooms and two main kitchens servicing four restaurants and a full bar. About 2,000 to 2,500 meals are served every day. In the first five months of the program, the hotel composted over 100 tons of food scraps. Commercial Food Scraps Composting Program: Sheraton San Diego. (YouTube, 03:26)
  • Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ restaurant, in partnership with Burrtec Organics Recycling, has a food waste collection program in Rancho Cucamonga. This chain restaurant has plans to implement more of these food waste diversion projects in its other locations in California. The food waste from Lucille’s feed-stock for the compost operation at Burrtec’s West Valley MRF operation in Fontana. Burrtec sells finished compost to the general public, landscapers, and other compost companies.


Other Resources

Helpful Guidelines


Produce Handling and Storage

  • Rotate perishable stock at every delivery to minimize waste.
  • Clean coolers and freezers regularly to ensure that food has not fallen behind the shelving and become spoiled.
  • Arrange refrigerated and dry storage areas to facilitate easy access and rotation.
  • Rehydrate vegetables (celery, lettuce, and broccoli) that have wilted by trimming off the very bottom part of the stalk and immersing in warm water (100°F.) for 15 to 20 minutes.

Food Preparation and Storage

  • Use vegetable and meat trimmings for soup stock.
  • Adjust the size of meal portions if you find they are consistently returned unfinished.
  • Pre-cool hot foods (in an ice bath) before refrigerating.
  • Store leftover hot foods from different stations in separate containers to reduce the chance of spoilage.
  • Wrap freezer products tightly, label, and date them. Make sure they are used in a timely fashion, to minimize freezer burn.


Paper Supplies

  • Purchase paper products made from recycled materials.
  • Use reusable coasters (or nothing at all) instead of paper napkins when serving beverages from the bar.

Janitorial and Restaurant Supplies

  • Use reusable table linen and dinnerware.
  • Use cloth towels for cleaning, rather than the paper.
  • Purchase cleaning supplies in concentrate form.
  • Use multipurpose cleaners that can be used for all types of surfaces rather than cleaners that are job specific. Whenever possible, use cleaning agents that are less hazardous or non-hazardous.

Production and Service Areas

  • Implement a cleaning and maintenance program for all your equipment.
  • Keep refrigeration in good running order to prevent spoilage and reduce energy costs.
  • Clean fryers and filter the oil daily. Use a test kit to determine when to change fryer oil.


  • Contact the city recycling coordinator and inquire about food waste for compost projects.
  • Create incentives for staff to reduce breakage of china and glass.
  • Place rubber mats around bus and dish washing stations to reduce china and glass breakage.
  • Check for discarded trays and flatware before throwing out dining room trash.


  • Distribute condiments from behind the counter instead of offering self-service.
  • Serve straws from health department-approved dispensers rather than pre-wrapped, and offer only one straw per drink.
  • Use serving containers in sizes that meet the packaging needs of your menu items without having excess packaging material.
  • Minimize the use of unnecessary extra packaging of take-out foods.
  • Offer customers a discount if they bring their own mugs, containers, or bags.

Recycling Activities

  • Set up a rendering service for your waste grease, fat, or used cooking oil.
  • Set up a recycling program with one of your local collectors (for example, cardboard and glass).
  • If you serve beverages in cans or bottles, place a recycling bin in the dining area for your customers’ empty beverage containers.
  • Donate empty plastic pails or buckets to schools, nurseries, churches, customers, or employees. Donate old uniforms to thrift shops.

Ask Your Employees

  • Ask your staff for input and assistance on what can be done to reduce waste. Reward them for good ideas.

Tell Your Customers

  • Educate customers and advertise your waste reduction program by posting signs highlighting your efforts.

Food Scraps Management Home

For more information contact: Food Scrap Management,