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Oil’s well that ends well Cutting waste is an essential strut of any restaurant’s sustainability strategy, but it is inevitable that some waste is unavoidable. There is a growing focus, therefore, on ensuring that waste products are disposed of in a way that minimises environmental impact and cost. Composting is a prime example of how waste can be put to good use, but the market is ripe for innovation and Restaurant Technologies Inc (RTI) provides a good example. RTI provides oil-management solutions

to restaurants that offer high-quality fried foods and want to both reduce work-environment risks associated with the manual handling of oil and find a cost-effective and sustainable means of disposing of used oil. Its closed-loop system ensures zero contribution to landfills because all of the used cooking oil is recycled into biodiesel. “Restaurant operators have looked at sustainability from the food perspective, and now they are looking at waste,” says Jason Cocco, vice president of business and product development at RTI. “The traditional process for oil is that you order a plastic jug that comes in a cardboard box, which you use to fill the fryer. Later, you drain it and carry it to a dumpster for hot oil. With our solution, the fresh oil and waste oil tanks are directly plumbed in. You simply push a button to fill or drain the fryer. “Our trucks deliver fresh oil in bulk and

also take away the used oil. We monitor customers’ daily use and provide them with that data. All of this saves them up to 30% of costs straight away. More than 90% of the oil comes back to us and is converted into biodiesel. It’s a good story that restaurants can tell their customers.” RTI’s biggest customer is McDonald’s but it has expanded to retail, grocery stores, hotels, universities and hospitals. As the company grows, it will become an increasingly viable option for smaller operators.


of the oil delivered to the customer is

returned via waste oil collection trucks

The used oil is

then converted into biodiesel, ensuring zero contribution to landfills

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operators to quickly see the impact of any waste-cutting actions they take. The tool can identify factors such as food being thrown away because it is overcooked or out of date, and it puts a monetary value on waste. This can help chefs to avoid simple mistakes by consistently checking fridges, monitoring portion control and ordering the freshest of produce.

“I used to write down everything we

threw away,” says Wood. “I even took the bins away, as they mask what is thrown away. You need to educate chefs because they are the ones in the kitchen every day. KitchenCUT is an easy tool you can link to recipes. You type in what is thrown away and it gives you an immediate monetary value at today’s prices.” “This is built with busy chefs in

mind. It is simple to use, and easy to learn so chefs can get back to the stove where they belong. Eggshells and cardboard are the only things you should throw away, and I want to help restaurants get to that stage,” he adds.


nother suite of tools that allows kitchen staff to monitor food waste is LeanPath. Developed in

the US, the LeanPath 360 Food Waste Monitoring System includes a tracking solution that makes it quick and easy to record everything being thrown out. It uses game playing features to enable people to engage more effectively. The Tracker 2.0 feature includes instant-win features that randomly reward kitchen staff for participating in the LeanPath programme, small tokens such as a $5 gift card making a big impact on users. The tool displays a leaderboard to create a friendly competitive environment in the kitchen by highlighting the top ‘waste warriors’. The key dimension to LeanPath,

however, lies with the insights the program provides from the data it collects. Once again, it highlights trends in behaviour and charts the effect of any

“From a financial and moral perspective, you have to ask: why would you throw away something edible that you can make money from?”

changes made to processes. Highlighting and encouraging smart decisions might result in food cost savings of up to 6%. “It is not a surveillance system,” says

Shakman. “We are there to help chefs run a better business. No chef wants to waste food, so we show them the structural factors that lead to waste. The economist’s voice and the culinary voice must come together. We create behavioural science engagement with technology that makes it easy to measure waste, and this awareness leads to culture change. The work is done by the executive chefs and their teams, so they must take ownership of it. “There are few safety nets for

chefs, and they can miss the numbers sometimes,” he adds. “We are just putting a safety net under chefs, using a simple system that shows them what is going into the wastebasket. It is a lightweight system that helps a lot.” According to KitchenCUT’s Wood, chefs should be happy to accept a small imposition on their time to make a big difference to the bottom line. “A chef is an artist and a businessman,” he says. “A chef is someone who loves to make great food and make a profit. If you care only about the food, then you are a cook – not a chef. Places run by chefs stay open and make a profit.” “For restaurants, being a good member of the community means cutting waste. They can be leaders – and they may need to be, as customers’ attitudes are changing. We are getting to the crest of the wave: the awareness and the tools are there,” says Barker.


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