Maybe All Buffets Should Charge A Leftovers Fee

We've all seen it before: plates of whole, uneaten food left behind at a buffet restaurant. It often happens because many buffet restaurants don't typically allow you to take your leftover food home. This "no takeout" policy, which may be beneficial to restaurants in some ways, also presents one obvious problem: food waste. Greenly claims over 30% of all food that's produced in the world goes to waste. That's about 2.5 billion tons. Yes, billion tons. Of course, food waste isn't always intentional, but it still happens every day.

This statistic is likely why some buffet restaurants have joined the fight to try to reduce food waste by charging customers for leftovers. According to International Business Times, Patrizietta, a buffet restaurant in Switzerland, tacks on a fee of 5 francs (about $5.49 USD) for leaving leftovers, in addition to the meal price of 12 francs ($13.18 USD). In Singapore, they handle excess food a bit differently. Using an app called Treatsure, you can pay $7.50 for the option to fill a container with leftover food from a hotel buffet. The catch is, you can only fill up shortly before the buffet is slated to close for the day.

But should all buffet restaurants charge customers for leftovers to help prevent food waste? Some buffet eateries have the same policy as Patrizietta while others do let you take food home, but for a hefty "per-pound" fee. Social media is divided on the issue.

How American buffet restaurants handle food waste

Part of that aforementioned 2.5 billion tons of global food waste includes 119 billion pounds in the United States, according to Feeding America; but some American buffet restaurants have enacted their own policies to prevent food waste. Oyaho Sushi restaurant in Webster, Texas, is one of them. The all-you-can-eat (AYCE) restaurant allows you to request as much made-to-order food as you'd like for a flat fee; but, if you don't eat it all, you'll be charged extra (via Yelp). According to a TripAdvisor member, Sushi King in Norfolk, Virginia, also charges for leftovers.

The leftovers policy topic surfaced on Reddit, and followers weighed in. One person supports it, claiming that restaurant food waste "drives up their costs, and thus their prices." Another person said charging for leftovers "seems like a reasonable thing to do," but not everyone agrees. On GameFAQs, someone said, "If you are going to charge for it, I am taking it home," in reference to a California AYCE sushi restaurant called Chomp. Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffet in Texas got the memo; according to a Yelp member, "They'll provide you with a to-go container, and you can pay per pound" for any food you want to take home.

So, on the one hand, charging for leftovers can definitely prevent food waste; but, on the other hand, allowing customers to take food home (with or without an additional fee) can do the exact same thing. It's quite a conundrum.