Proper Restaurant Food Waste Recycling
Like other businesses, restaurants produce a lot of waste that is recyclable. Considering how much waste a busy restaurant can produce, recycling is not only an environmentally friendly option; it’s significantly less expensive than paying for multiple waste pickups every week.
Additionally, restaurants tend to produce a lot of food waste that usually ends up in landfills. While food waste can’t technically be “recycled,” a restaurant can implement proper food waste recycling programs to help minimize and manage it.
What Can Restaurants Recycle?
Restaurants receive a lot of their food in large containers and boxes. Restaurants can quickly fill up a dumpster with materials that could otherwise be recycled, such as:
- Commercial size plastic jugs, steel cans, and glass containers
- Cardboard meat and produce boxes
- Paper packing material
- Used disposable plastic utensils and cups
- Used paper placemats and menus
- Aluminum soda and beer cans
- Glass beer and wine bottles
In addition to keeping these items out of the waste stream and landfill, recycling is more cost-effective than waste disposal fees, and a restaurant may even be able to make a small profit from recycling valuable materials like aluminum.
While the restaurant does not see the direct impact of recycling long-term, they are ultimately helping to minimize environmental impact, decrease energy consumption, and reduce air and water pollution that would have resulted from manufacturing virgin materials instead of recycling.
Food Waste Recycling
Restaurants have a unique waste stream as a significant amount of what hits the bin is actually food waste. While there is nothing to do with unfinished meals but throw them in the garbage, there are several other ways that restaurants can minimize their food waste:
- Organize Your Pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to bring older products to the front and prevent food spoilage
- Modify Portion Sizes or offer smaller portions for a discount if you notice a lot of unfinished meals returning to the kitchen.
- Donate Unused Food. Food banks are always in need of non-perishable food items, but perishable prepared meals can also be donated if they’re distributed promptly. The USDA site has resources for locating a local organization to partner with for these distribution services
- Recycle Used Cooking Oils. Partner with a rendering plant to recycle used cooking oils, greases and fats.
- Composting. Unless you’re a small, family-owned, farm-to-table restaurant, you probably don’t have a need to compost. However, there are almost always local farmers you can donate fruit and vegetable scraps to for composting in their fields. It’s unlikely you’ll get paid for your garbage, but you can feel good knowing you’re doing your part to keep food waste out of landfills.
Combined Resources Inc. Can Help You Create A Restaurant Recycling Program And Manage Food Waste
If you’re interested in implementing a recycling program in your Chicago area restaurant, contact CRI at 630-693-0111 for a free recycling audit. We’ll analyze your waste stream and set up the recycling programs that you would benefit from most. If you’re interested in proper food waste recycling practices, we can help you partner with local organizations that can help you manage and dispose of it to minimize your environmental impact.
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