Aramark has undertaken a program of waste reduction at its 500 largest accounts as part of the company’s Green Thread environmental sustainability platform. Effected in partnership with the LeanPath waste reduction consultancy organization, it was piloted in early 2016 in a dozen locations that included healthcare, higher education and corporate dining sites.
Results at those locations showed a 50 percent overall reduction in food waste, after which the company embarked on a full-scale rollout plan that was developed and launched by the end of 2016.
“We realized strong results across the pilot locations in healthcare, higher education and business dining,” comments Kathy Cacciola, senior director for environmental sustainability. “In particular, we were able to make a significant impact on foods that we were using too much of based on the volume consumed. Our teams did this by following our standards for ordering, preparing, serving and tracking food production.”
While Aramark has significant internal sustainability resources, “LeanPath provided more accurate and current data, which greatly improved our production forecasting and [we] were able to set target goals for new sites coming online as the rollout began,” Cacciola explains.
“We also gained important learning regarding employee engagement,” she adds. “Once our team members began to realize how easy the LeanPath process is to use and the impact they can have on outcomes in terms of the environmental footprint and economics they became highly engaged. When the technology is in use it is very easy to see results, which proved to be a big motivator.”
The rollout is planned to continue over the course of this year.
“Generally, the strategy is to target our highest volume food accounts for LeanPath implementation,” Cacciola says. “We started with the locations where we could make the greatest impact—to decrease waste and minimize our footprint—in healthcare, higher education and business dining groups. By the end of April 2017, we expect that we will have approximately 450 locations online.”
She says implementation across sports & entertainment locations will take place next year.
Once a location is identified and confirmed for participation, the LeanPath team is introduced and a site survey conducted to determine IT and other equipment requirements. The site team also undergoes training that leads up to a go-live date.
Then, when the site is live, baseline data and goals are set and ongoing waste reduction coaching is provided by LeanPath to support the teams with their goals and to maximize waste reduction.
“From end to end it is about a two-month process for complete implementation,” Cacciola explains.
The reason for targeting the highest volume food accounts “is because these are the places where we can make the greatest impact,” she says, “and while there are other segments where we are using the technology, it is most prominent in our healthcare, higher education and business dining groups.”
The overall goal is to minimize waste before it is generated, Cacciola says.
“Long term, we are striving for continuous improvement…leading to a goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030 from our 2015 baseline, which aligns with our commitment as a U.S. EPA and USDA Food Loss and Waste Champion.”
She expects the initiative to build on its momentum as the impact of the changes are analyzed.
“We expect the data and insights the system generates will help our managers to make operational changes to continue to make progress on our waste reduction efforts,” Cacciola says. “Our goal is to continue to reduce our environmental footprint by addressing food waste and loss, a primary contributor to climate change. We’re focused on making a positive impact through simple operational changes and awareness.”