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The Amazing Secret to Food Leftovers at Walt Disney World

​Disney’s celebration of Earth Month is in full swing, with the Walt Disney Company bringing attention to the many projects taking place as part of Disney Planet Possible.

From eliminating plastic straws and stirrers at dining locations in the Parks to building new solar facilities and the amazing work that the Disney Conservation Fund has done to help protect over 1,000 species and their habitats, Walt Disney World has a lot in place to help protect our planet.

Additionally, did you also know that more than 300 sea turtles have been rescued, nursed back to health, and then returned to the wild at The Seas with Nemo & Friends in EPCOT? Well, as part of Disney Planet Possible, Disney also has a great secret behind what it does with its leftovers at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs.

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Credit: Disney

​Have you ever wondered what happens to all the unsold and uneaten food at the Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts?

Well, you may have guessed already, but Disney Planet Possible has a system in place to ensure that there is as little waste as possible at Disney dining locations, both quick service and table service. Chef Michael Gonsalves, a Chef at Walt Disney World Resort, revealed:

“Across Disney Parks, we are committed to reducing food waste with a goal of zero waste to landfill. To aid in this effort, we try to maximize food waste diversion. Pushing the bar on food quality and innovation is one thing, but most important is the consideration of our carbon footprint and its impacts on our world. The vision and dedication to drive to sustainable zero-waste models should be the goal for everyone on this planet if we plan to see it thrive for generations to come.”

Disney’s mission to eliminate food waste has garnered the attention of others also, such as Andrew Wheeler, who is an Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the EPA website, after taking a tour and seeing Walt Disney World Resorts practices to mitigate food loss and waste, Wheeler said “Disney’s commitment to cutting food losses in its operations is a demonstration of what can be done to keep wasted food from entering our country’s landfills.”

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Credit: Disney

​Disney Planet Possible begins its fight against food waste by planning a menu for a Disney World dining location and then trying to predict how many meals will be needed at each Disney Park each day.

Once Disney has an idea of how much food will be needed, they start harvesting fruits and vegetables, some of which come right from Disney properties. Think about the Living with the Land attraction at EPCOT theme park. Even with the best predictions, however, there will always still be leftover food, so what does Disney do with it all?

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Credit: Disney

​First, let’s talk about food that has already been prepared, but that was never served. These items will get donated to local food banks like Second Harvest Food Bank. In the past two-years, Disney has donated more than $14.6 million worth of this type of food to hunger relief organizations. Last year alone, Walt Disney World donated more than 550,000 pounds of food that was prepared but never served to Second Harvest Food Bank in Central Florida. That is a lot of food that would have just been thrown into the landfills.

When it comes to the food scraps that are no longer appropriate for human consumption, Disney has a couple ways of reusing it so that it does not get wasted. Some of the food scraps will be sent offsite to commercial composting facility where it naturally breaks down over time to become nutrient rich soil that is used in gardening, landscaping, farming and other things. Some of this nutrient rich soil will be used to fertilize plants at Restaurantosaurus and in the Pollinator Garden in Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Credit: Tricia Kennedy

​We could spend all day discussing what Walt Disney World and the other Disney properties around the world are working on to make sure that as little food is wasted as possible.

For example, Disneyland Resort in Anaheim eliminates the need for 200,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year by using the used cooking oil from their restaurants in all of the 5 biodiesel steam trains and the Mark Twain Riverboat! Disneyland Resort recently received the Food Recovery Challenge Award from the EPA and the SEAL Business Sustainability Award for the environmental initiative category for managing their food waste.

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Credit: Disney

Disney Planet Possible, as part of the Walt Disney Company, has been a leader and an innovator in conservation around the world. In the words of Walt Disney, “Conservation isn’t just the business of a few people. It’s a matter that concerns all of us.”

Walt is as right today as he was when he originally said it. We all need to do our part.

About Gene Fitzmagic