We’re about 3 weeks into the plate waste project. I thought I would give a bit of an update from my perspective.
First I’d like to thank Simon, Emma and the classes who have tolerated and helped us as we collect the waste and weigh specials before they go out.
The high level result is that we are seeing an average of about 12% of the food coming back. That’s right about what the average is according to other work so not a big surprise. It is interesting that we’ve gone from a low of about 6% to a high of 19% so there is considerable variability. I think that variability comes from a couple of sources.
1 – Every day is different and customers are different. You expect some variability.
2 – The specials vary by day and that can contribute to differences. I think this was a factor on a couple of days but is probably smaller than we think.
3 – Waste isn’t consistent by menu item or by customer. Its clear we would expect some items to generate more waste than others. I think it happens for a couple of reasons. a – Size matters but probably less than I expected. The size of the portion will affect waste. That said, I’ve seen some huge servings on specials from which absolutely nothing came back. b- it varies by customer. Some items generate a bit of waste from everyone (garnishes for example) and some vary dramatically. There’s something to be learned there and its a focus of the detailed analysis we will do later.
Understanding the source of waste and doing some detective work as to what is causing that is part of the real value of this project. We are looking at the what contributes and why so that a strategic response can be developed. Its about improving the experience and reducing waste. PJ’s does a great job and we’re hoping to find some tweaks, implement them and measure the improvement.
I should add how cool it is to interact with the students during the process. We get a chance to talk to them about what we’re doing and why. They look at waste and add comments and perspective. Not just collecting data but generating discussion too.