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Everything You Need to Know About Food Waste

When someone dines, they typically aren’t thinking about how their food creates a pollution stream. From collecting raw materials to the final food product, and even after the consumption of the meal, there is a lot of waste produced from the food and beverage industry.

Is Food Waste Really Significant?

Surprisingly, the food and beverage industry is one of the largest producers of waste in the world. During the food and beverage manufacturing process, there is a lot of waste produced including leftovers, wastewater, garbage, and  hazardous waste streams. 

In Oregon alone, there are 6 food processing companies that make it on the list of the state’s top 150 firms. That’s not accounting for restaurants and massive kitchens in the area.

Moreover, Portland is a major West Coast distribution center, so it’s natural that many food and beverage companies would choose to locate here. Its growing reputation as the hub for foodies and homebrew enthusiasts has led to the distribution of Portland’s signature products and brands across the country. The food and beer industry in PDX is so vibrant that it’s even driving down commercial and industrial real estate vacancy rates.

4 Types of Food Waste

Here are a few of the common pollutants and hazardous waste streams generated by the food and beverage industry.

Food Loss, Rotten/Expired Foods & Leftovers

There are 3 main levels of food availability and wastage. The primary level is related to farming and sending crops to retailers. Then, there is a retail level that includes supermarkets, grocery stores, and retail outlets. The third one is the consumer level which encompasses restaurants, cafeterias, the food we consume at home, uneaten food, peels, and more.

At all these levels, there is a wastage of food. At farms, the crop can be damaged due to insects, birds, and extreme weather. Then, there are leftovers after processing the food. In grocery stores and supermarkets, the items might expire.

The third level is massively responsible for food waste. We often waste food at home and in restaurants. There’s also a non-edible portion of food that includes seeds, peels, and cores. The portion is always there whether it is your home or a restaurant. 

Bulk Liquids & Expired Food & Drink Products

Overall, wastewater is the number one pollutant generated by the food and beverage industry. From slaughterhouse lines to produce distribution centers to dairies to microbreweries, every food and beverage production center requires plenty of fresh water for sorting and cleaning. 

Wastewater streams from food and beverage companies tend to have high rates of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSS). Excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous compounds are also a concern, as are lingering pesticides and chlorine left over from food and beverage processing. Hazardous waste disposal firms can help food and beverage plants properly dispose of their wastewater streams.

Restaurants and food/beverage plants may possess expired oils and other coagulating liquids that pose a threat to local sewage systems. Hazardous waste disposal companies can inventory, package, and properly dispose of expired goods, including liquids.

As Oregon food and beverage production ramps up, more waste is produced. As a trusted Portland hazardous waste disposal company, we can help food and beverage manufacturers and distributors follow the letter of RCRA, DEQ, and other environmental regulation laws.

Wood & Paper

Food products may be delivered in wood and paper packaging. Pallets and paper may often be recycled. Increasingly, net-zero systems are being set up in which the waste streams from one company are the raw materials of another company.


Plastic waste is also common in the food and beverage industry as products can be packed or served in plastic bottles, plates, cups, and containers. You might have also seen Styrofoam disposable plates and cups that are commonly disposed of by restaurants and houses.

Plastic waste is hazardous, and it creates many environmental issues as it fills our land and oceans. Plus, the chemicals from which it is made and the byproducts are also harmful. Thus, this waste should be dealt with properly to save the environment.  

Portland maintains a strong plastic recycling program, so smaller food and beverage companies, (such as restaurants), can simply put plastic waste in their recycling bins.

Properly Dispose of Food Waste with WasteXpress

At all levels, it is essential to take such measures that can reduce the wastage of food. For commercial places,  a third-party service provider or hazardous waste management company is needed to cut down on food waste and pollutants. 

At WasteXpress, we maintain the Conditional Exempt Generator program, which allows small waste generators such as cafes, restaurants, and bars to properly dispose of their hazardous waste in line with federal and state environmental guidelines. This streamlined system is the ideal way to dispose of unwanted inventories and other food and beverage waste while meeting compliance. 

As long as you create less than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month or no more than 2200 pounds at one time, you are eligible for the program. We prorate your waste disposal by the gallon. Our experienced technicians will inventory, package, and remove your waste according to legislative guidelines. 

Call 855-224-3206 or fill out our online form to learn more about enrolling for our food waste program.

Contact WasteXpress

11615 North Lombard Street, Portland, OR 97203

5812 S Adams St # B, Tacoma, WA 98409