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SWR Interview: Tom Post.

Sodexho, Inc., which provides food and dining services in North America and worldwide, reports Sodexho employees at eight college campuses cut kitchen waste by approximately one-third, simply by tracking and monitoring food waste. Those results are in the preliminary findings from the first eight weeks of a pilot study that is part of the company's commitment to stop wasting food to curb climate change and improve business practices--and also reduce the amount of wastes going to landfills. Sodexho's pilot study results come from a program initiated in early September at eight college campuses across the country to analyze and measure kitchen waste in an effort to better manage it. Colleges participating in the waste-reduction pilot program include Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, California State University of Monterey Bay in Seaside, Calif., Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., University of California at Davis, Calif., and University of Wisconsin in River Falls, Wisc. Tom Post, president of education-campus at Sodexho, describes the project for SWR.

SWR: Would you tell us how the project was set up and what you were trying to accomplish?

Post: Sodexho partnered with LeanPath, a technology company providing food waste tracking systems, to conduct the review. The pilot study focused on kitchen--or pre-consumer--waste, not what customers throw out. The system featured a tracking station where Sodexho employees entered data about what they were throwing out and why. By tracking the reason for throwing away items, Sodexho can correct the problem to prevent future food waste. Sodexho employees at those eight sites dramatically reduced overproduction, spoilage, expiration and trimmings by participating in the pilot study.

SWR: Obviously, that means less waste and presumably cost savings as well.

Post: Our people have been vigilant about preventing food waste at these sites, demonstrating they are extremely good stewards of the environment. And the results show it's possible to send less waste to landfills and to reduce costs without compromising the quality or variety of the food we serve.

SWR: There's been increased attention recently on the issue of food wastes, and what's being done with them.

Post: LeanPath estimates that four to 10 percent of the food that is purchased ends up in kitchen waste. Each participating site in the Sodexho pilot also has a Stop Waste Action Team--a SWAT team--made up of employees. The SWAT team reviews the waste tracking data, sets specific goals for improvement, and tests waste prevention ideas. The most effective ideas become permanent.

SWR: So this is part on an on-going initiative for Sodexho.

Post: In September, Sodexho launched "Stop Wasting Food," a campaign to involve its customers and employees in reducing food waste to curb climate change. Americans trash 25 percent of all the food they prepare each year, leading to 31 million tons of wasted food piling up in landfills annually. Food waste in landfills produces methane gas, which is at least 21 times more potent than carbon. Methane breaks down the ozone layer and leads to climate change. The campaign demonstrates Sodexho's commitment to work together with clients, suppliers and customers to take measurable sustainable actions in the areas of environment, health and wellness and community to ensure a better tomorrow.

Contact: Monica Zimmer, (302) 987-4461.
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Publication:Solid Waste Report
Article Type:Interview
Date:Dec 1, 2010
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