Recycling & Composting
What You Need To Know
When you transform something old into something new, it benefits the environment in a number of ways. Materials and natural resources aren’t wasted. Energy is saved during the manufacturing process. There’s less waste going to landfills. Not to mention, it helps keep wildlife safe.
Recycling programs not only reduce overflow in your dumpster, but they promote a sustainable image to restaurant patrons. There is so much public and consumer focus now on sustainable and eco-friendly businesses. According to Forbes Magazine, millennials prefer to buy from brands with a pro-social message and sustainable methods. It’s important for restaurants to make that connection to reducing their carbon footprint and become more environmentally friendly by putting a recycling program in place. Doing so is just another way to better serve your customers.
To obtain Tier 1 Certification, you will be able to demonstrate your recycling processes during the walk-through certification visit. We will want to see your sorting system, both indoors and outdoors, and hear about how the recycling is transported from your business to the MRF (Materials Recovery Facility). There are low cost and paid options for local recycling. You can hire a hauler and pay a monthly fee, or you can drop off recyclables directly to a handler out at the Little Rock Port. You may choose to pay for cardboard hauling services, but sort and deliver glass, plastic, and metal yourself. Please see resources below to discuss your options.
To obtain Tier 2 Certification, you will also be implementing recycling offerings for customer-facing operations. This could look different for everyone -- wait staff informing patrons of proper sorting, clearly labels waste stations, or bussers taking all recyclables to the back for sorting. Whatever way works best for you, be prepared to discuss your system during the certification walk-through.
How You Could Start
Elect an enthusiastic employee to lead the recycling program, advocate, communicate and train the employees. Employee engagement is key to any recycling program’s success. Your champion should be in charge of communicating the benefits of the program to staff so they have a clear understanding of why it’s being implemented. You could offer rewards and incentives once the program has started to encourage effective recycling practices.
What You Need to Know
A lot of restaurant food goes uneaten every single day. An analysis from the Food Waste Reduction Alliance found that 84.3% of unused food in American restaurants ends up as trash, while 14.3% is recycled, and 1.4% is donated. Throwing large volumes of food away as trash means you probably have heavy, expensive waste containers that are serviced frequently. When both weight and volume are trending high, chances are your business is probably spending a lot of money to send unused food to landfill. Instead of dealing with the expenses and hassles of hauling away mostly food waste to landfill, composting allows your restaurant to divert nearly all its waste. Composting requires very little equipment and a small amount of education and dedication to yield positive results.
To obtain Tier 2 Certification, you'll demonstrate your kitchen policies on collecting food scraps for composting.
To obtain Tier 3 Certification, you will be composting pre-consumer food scraps from your kitchen, collecting compostable dine-in single-use items such as paper straws, napkins and fiber sauce cups, as well as offering receptacles for composting any containers used for dine-in and to-go service for front-of-house use (customer facing).
How You Could Start
To start your composting program, perform a waste audit to determine what kinds of food scraps and what volume you are dealing with - choose a busy day and a slow day to get a good idea. From there, you can hire a composting service that picks up organic waste or drop it off yourself for a low/no fee option. Community gardens might gladly accept your plant-based food scraps like broccoli stems, potato skins, and extra cooked grains. It will require a much larger scale composter to handle meat and dairy scraps. A good method to start with is to obtain 5 gallon buckets with lids to keep food scraps in. Delegate drop off or pick up to a company or green-minded employee (because it's always fun to go visit a community garden)!
View and print Composting Program Posters in English and Spanish