In November 2011, UH Dining Services began a program called Waste Minimization that was part of a larger initiative of ARAMARK, the company contracted to provide food service to the UH campus. The program aimed to reduce the amount of food waste produced by the kitchens when preparing and serving food.

The program begins by identifying two types of waste, avoidable and unavoidable. Avoidable waste can be as simple as cutting too much off the tip of a carrot when removing the stem. Unavoidable waste includes things like the leaves on top of a pineapple, egg shells, and other inedible parts of food. By determining what waste is avoidable, we can reduce the amount of food going to landfills and cut down on energy used to order and produce more food than is necessary.

What was originally intended to be a two-week pilot program developed into an ongoing process for measuring and reducing the amount of waste produced in UH kitchens. This program has seen great success thus far, and will continue to measure the progress of UHDS in an ongoing manner.

When the program first began, UHDS took measurements for the first week to determine a starting point upon which they could base all subsequent measurements. The totals used include both avoidable and unavoidable waste, and are measured in ounces per person served. See the table below to compare the difference between where we stood in November at two of our highest-volume locations and how UHDS was performing in April, five and a half months after the program began.

  Catering The Fresh Food Co.
11-9 through 11-15 1.73 6.34
4-25 through 5-1 0.39 3.88
Total Decrease 0.98 2.46


“We at UHDS are very proud of the job our team is doing to help minimize waste and in turn help the environment,” said Tony Urso, resident district manager for UH Dining Services. “We are only scratching the surface at this time and plan to really become even more efficient in the near future to help save our planet!”

For more information about UH Dining Services visit www.uh.edu/dining.