Tips and case studies to reduce organic waste

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Tip sheets

Much of the text provided in these tip sheets is reprinted, with permission, from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

Case studies


Olympia School District

All 18 Olympia schools set aside prepared but unserved food to donate to the Thurston County Food Bank through the Food Rescue program. During the 2013-14 school year, the District donated more than 4 tons of food to be repackaged into nutritious ready-to-eat meals through their participation in this program. Ten of the District’s schools are using bulk dispensers and durable cups to serve milk to their students. This has eliminated more than 350,000 milk cartons from the waste stream and reduced milk waste by an estimated 7,000 gallons per year.

National and international

Stop and Shop / Giant Landover

The $16 billion dollar grocery chain looked closely at purchases, sales and shrink in all perishables. It found whole stock-keeping units (SKUs) that weren’t necessary. It also found that the marketing of abundant piles of produce leads to spoilages, displeased customers and more staff time. They reduced choices and implemented less-full displays and not only increased customer satisfaction, but also saved $100 million dollars.

Price Chopper

Conducted a waste audit of perishables that led to the elimination of 680 SKUs from the bakery department. This cut their shrink (losses) by $2 milion and raised sales by 3%.

Daily Table

Started by a former Trader Joe's executive, this retailer markets only nearly expired and expired foods. This is a blanket recognition of “expiration” dates being a manufacturer-driven best quality window rather than relating to food safety.


This UK retailer (together with another retailer – Marks & Spencers) began using an ethylene –absorbing strip (such as FreshPaper by fenugreen). They estimate this alone could save 1.6 million packs of tomatoes, 350,000 avocados and 40,000 packs of strawberries.

Berkeley Bowl

This popular California retailer bags up nearly expired and damaged produce and sees in on a bargain shelf for $.99 a bag. Customers love to hunt the shelf and the bargain shelf is swarmed whenever there are new bags of goodies. The produce manager estimates the company sells $1,500 a day of these bargain goods at each store.

California Berkeley Campus reduced food waste in their kitchen by 43% ($1,600/wk) by implementing a Lean Path program to track sales and waste.

Stanford Medical Center in South Dakota did the same and within 7 months saved $99,928 and reduced pre-consumer waste by 43%.

TGI Friday's

Implemented a “Right Portion, Right Price” option. These dishes are 1/3 smaller and 1/3 cheaper than full size entrees. A year after implementation these portioned plates grew to 15% of all orders. Many restaurants are marketing “mini” or “small plate” options.

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