Sustainable America Blog

Chicago Brewery Says “Cheers” to Reducing Food Waste

Goose Island and Zero Percent team

The Goose Island team hold up zeros in support of Zero Percent. (Photo: Zero Percent)

Can beer help end food waste? Two Chicago-area businesses think so. Starting January 15, Goose Island Brew Pub will be pouring a batch of “Zero Percent,” a tribute beer named for technology startup Zero Percent, a company that helps businesses donate food that would otherwise be thrown away to nonprofits who feed the hungry.

Goose Island started working with Zero Percent to donate excess food from its pub and catering business in December, according to Chicago Inno. Here’s what assistant general manager Erica Hylton had to say about the organization:

“While we have very little waste in our restaurant already, there are always times when we overestimate our needs, particularly with events we haven’t done before. In the past, we’ve been donating to organizations separately but it’s much easier with Zero Percent to coordinate a single pickup and at our convenience.”

Goose Island Zero PercentThe brewpub will include information about Zero Percent on their menu, and servers will be encouraged to talk to guests about the organization and the issue of food waste.

You can expect to see more restaurants getting involved with food recovery this year. The National Restaurant Association named food waste reduction and management as a food trend to watch in 2015. Currently, only 22 percent of restaurants and cafeteria operations donate leftover food to charitable organizations, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a coalition of food industry groups working to prevent and reduce food waste. The group found that barriers to donations include transportation and storage constraints — two issues that companies like Zero Percent are working to alleviate. (To help food service businesses better manage food waste, FWRA published this toolkit in 2014. Check it out if you’re in the restaurant business!)

“Zero Percent” will be an extra special bitter on nitro served only at Goose Island Brew Pub. After it’s gone, it’s gone, but the brewery hopes to bring it back in the future. If you want to try Zero Percent yourself, Goose Island and Zero Percent are hosting a premier at the brewpub on January 15 at 6 pm.

If you can’t make it to Chicago to try the beer, you can still support the food waste reduction movement every time you eat out. Ask for smaller portions, share super-size entrees, take home what you can’t finish, and start a conversation with your favorite restaurants about what they do with leftover food. Get more tips at, our new campaign to end food waste.

Amy Leibrock
Blog Editor

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(Photo: _e.t via Flickr)

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.

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