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Food Service: Operations
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Reasons for Change
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Case Studies
Where To Go for P2 Help
Complete List of Links

Front of House

Back of House

  • Serving
  • Dining
  • Clean-up
  • Recycling
  • Food preparation 
  • Food and material storage
  • Kitchen clean-up
  • Equipment cleaning and maintenance

Site Exterior

General Operations

  • Parking lot cleaning and maintenance
  • Outside storage
  • Refuse/recyclable collection
  • Purchasing
  • Employee training
  • Building maintenance (HVAC)

This site contains information on activities that occur at commercial/institutional food service establishments and does not include related industries such as agriculture, food processing and transportation.  The following describes the four basic areas of operation in a food service setting, the associated wastes generated, and environmental regulations that may apply. The environmental regulations described may or may not pertain to the conditions of your location. Consult with your local and state environmental authorities to ensure applicable requirements are properly being met.



Wastes Generated

Environmental Regulations*

Front of House


The "Front of House" activities are those involving customer serving and dining. Food service functions in this area also include  HVAC, lighting, clean-up and recycling. Solid Waste: disposable serving wares (paper, Styrofoam, plastic) table coverings, napkins, food waste; food packaging (condiment packs, wrappers); beverage container waste; paper menus, fluorescent tubes

Wastewater: liquid beverage waste, cleaning waste (cleaners, disinfectants, spill waste, mop water)

Energy: Potential energy waste generated from  HVAC and lighting sources.
Solid Waste: local landfill bans (e.g., aluminum cans, cardboard, aerosol cans, free-liquids)

Universal Waste Rule:  fluorescent tubes used in lighting

Back of House

The "Back of House" procedures relate to food preparation, including sanitation of kitchen areas/utensils/serving and cookware; HVAC; lighting; refrigeration/freezing; food storage/disposal; equipment maintenance; oil and grease collection, and restroom upkeep.  Solid Waste: food waste, clean-up waste (discarded rags, cloth/paper towels), food containers (metal, plastic, glass), discarded linens  

Wastewater: oil and grease discharges, food particles, wastewater from cleaning operations (e.g., mop water, sinks, floors, spills, vent hoods)

Air Emissions: CFCs used in refrigeration

Energy:  Potential energy waste generated from HVAC, lighting, vent hoods, hot water, refrigeration, freezer, and cooking/baking
Solid Waste: local solid waste landfill bans (e.g., aluminum cans, cardboard, aerosol cans, free-liquids)

Universal Waste Rule:  fluorescent tubes used in lighting 

Water Quality: effluent limits (e.g., oil and grease)

Air Quality: CFCs used in refrigeration

Site Exterior

Site Exterior operations consist of outside building/parking lot repair and  maintenance; refuse/recyclable collection and storage; equipment cleaning/servicing; landscaping and grounds maintenance; lighting and product delivery.  Solid Waste: litter, lawn and garden clippings, pruning waste, tree trimmings

Wastewater/Stormwater: vehicle fluids (motor oil, antifreeze, etc.), waste runoff (improper trash container covering), oil and grease (improper storage methods and outdoor equipment cleaning), cooling and refrigeration discharges, spill cleanup, pesticides

Energy: Potential energy waste generated from lighting and HVAC
Solid Waste: local solid waste landfill bans (e.g., aluminum cans, cardboard, aerosol cans, free-liquids)

Universal Waste Rule:  fluorescent tubes used in lighting

Water Quality: stormwater releases

Air Quality: potential odor complaints from nearby residents

General Operations

General operations include food/material purchasing/handling/storage; employee training; food donation/composting Solid Waste: packaging materials, shipping containers, used fluorescent light bulbs, unserviceable equipment parts



Solid Waste: local solid waste landfill bans (e.g., aluminum cans, cardboard, aerosol cans, free-liquids) 

* Environmental regulations may vary on local and state levels.  Contact your local/state authorities for information to confirm the applicability of environmental requirements that may affect your organization.


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Food Service Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange
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Hub Last Updated: 3/18/2009