How Google Is Curbing Food Waste In Cafeterias

In 2022, Emily Ma, head of Google’s “Food for Good” program revealed that it's tackling food waste, by simply using smaller bowls that were an inch less deep, which led to employees taking less food, by 30 to 50% which downstream led to 30-70% less waste. The tech giant which has offices in 170 cities worldwide and serves more than 240,000 meals a day, runs 386 cafes which are a part of Google's global food service operations. 

Google also operates more than 1,500 micro kitchens and almost 50 food trucks for employees. And this week, more details emerged about how the company is planning to curb food waste.

Google's food waste goals are set on a 2025 timeline and the company had said in March 2022 that it aimed to cut waste per employee by half and send zero food waste to landfills by 2025. According to reports, by the end of 2022, it had already diverted 85% of waste.

“The near-term nature of it makes it challenging,” says Kate Brandt, Google’s chief sustainability officer. Though the company hasn’t released any recent numbers, a number of key details have come out in a Bloomberg report, pertaining to functional changes which have been made across Google cafeterias. Eggs-to-order is one such factor. By serving eggs only when it has been requested, Google bought down its scrambled egg waste by 44% in its Bay Area kitchens in the States. Compass Group, the food service provider that worked with Google on the change, has used this strategy at hundreds of other locations.

Google also closed down underused microkitchens and cafes as the company’s hybrid work schedule bought down the footfall in general (Google has a three-day-a-week office policy with badge tracking). Surplus edible food gets donated, not trashed and Google's kitchens are also reusing leftovers which has gone a long way, in curbing wastage. They are making Mediterranean chickpea sliders out of unused salad bar items and are also sourcing so-called ‘ugly produce’ that would have otherwise gone to waste. 

In the Dublin office of the company, excess peel waste generated by a fresh juicer was being used by a brewery nearby to make citrus beer. In its 2020 Environmental Report, Google had announced that it had prevented 9.2 million pounds of food waste since 2014, through its work with Leanpath in hundreds of Google Cafes around the world. Leanpath is a food waste prevention solution that has been working with the tech giant for a few years and offers automated food-waste tracking. “Literally thousands of things have changed," said Andrew Shakman, chief executive officer of Leanpath.