Zero-Waste Success Stories: How Restaurants Are Leading the Way

Alex Schulze , CEO/Co-Founder

Zero-Waste Success Stories: How Restaurants Are Leading the Way

The concept of zero-waste has gained significant traction with individuals, businesses, and governments since its inception in the 1980s. Even local governments have adopted their own zero-waste measures hoping to reduce waste within the confines of their municipality. As people and organizations seek to reduce their environmental footprint, they should pay close attention to one area in particular: food.

Every year, we waste about 1.3 billion metric tons of food globally. This means that around one third of food produced for human consumption is thrown out. In the United States alone, this figure is about 40%. If we continue on this trajectory, by 2030, 2.1 billion tons of food will be wasted annually – the equivalent of $1.5 trillion (USD).

In the US restaurant industry, between 4-10% of food purchased doesn’t make it to the customers’ table. In the UK, the hospitality and food services industry accounts for about 12% of food waste. The list goes on – but steps to combat food waste in the global restaurant industry are underway. Silo and Frea are two of many restaurants leading the way by transforming their operations while creating the building blocks toward a zero-waste future.

“Waste is a failure of the imagination”

Silo is an example of a restaurant embracing zero-waste principles. Chef and owner Douglas McMaster launched the restaurant to embrace his vision to recreate the food industry’s approach to sustainability practices. In doing so, he challenged the conventional norms by claiming that “waste is a failure of the imagination.”

In their operation, Silo has implemented the following policies:

Closed-Loop System. Silo operates on a closed-loop system, where ingredients are sourced from producers to the restaurant directly. This minimizes packaging waste and promotes a clear transparency in the supply chain.

Onsite Composting and Reuse. Silo’s composting operations are onsite. Any food left behind is directly turned into nutrient-rich soil that is distributed back to the restaurant’s production partners. In addition to composting, some of the leftover food scraps are repurposed to create innovative preserves and condiments.

Upcycled Design. The restaurant is styled and food is served with upcycled materials. For example, plates are formed with plastic bags and tables are made from food packaging.

Silo has been committed to zero-waste since its inception; the total waste it cannot use can be compressed into a 4X4 inch cube!“

Let’s set a new benchmark for what sustainable hospitality could actually be”

Frea, a German restaurant, opened its doors as the first zero-waste vegan restaurant in the world. Jasmin Martin and David Suchy are dedicating their efforts to making this zero-waste restaurant accessible to all. Their innovative practices, like Silo’s, are meant to redefine zero-waste in the restaurant industry. With their efforts, Suchy aims to “set a new benchmark for what sustainable hospitality could actually be.”

In their efforts to live true to being the first zero-waste vegan restaurant, they have implemented:

An Innovative Menu Design. Frea’s kitchen staff make everything from scratch in the restaurant. The menu is always evolving based on the available ingredients and seasonal supply.

Local Ingredient Sourcing. Like Silo, the ingredients used at Frea are sourced from producers to the restaurant directly. Ingredients are received and used daily to prevent spoiling. There is no packaging involved in this process, championing a sustainable practice that uses little to no waste.

Sustainable Uniforms and Interior Design. Plastic used during the restaurant’s construction was repurposed to form part of the interior design, and tables are made from old oak beams. Even the lampshades used are compostable. Staff uniforms and the napkins used by customers are made from fair trade materials.

Creative Composting Practices. Any herb that isn’t used when it is fresh is repurposed to create oils for the kitchen. The food scraps left behind by customers are composted in the restaurant and used by local farmers to help grow more vegetables for the restaurant.

A Zero-Waste Future in Restaurants

Restaurants across the globe are using innovative solutions to redefine sustainability practices and reduce food waste. By addressing their sourcing, waste, and design, Silo and Frea are among the many leaders hoping to guide the restaurant industry toward a zero-waste future.