Love the idea of composting your restaurant food waste, but can’t make it happen on-site? Consider commercial composting!
There’s no need to compromise your values and commitment to the environment just because your restaurant or small business is unable to compost. Composting companies offer an inventive service to help with your food waste reduction efforts. And we’ve got a couple more out-of-the-box strategies to help you recycle your food leftovers.
(Post updated with new information on 5/23/17.)
As a restaurant owner, you are likely very familiar with the issues of food waste in your restaurants. And, you also know that industrial waste removal services charge by how much waste they carry away—and you know that these garbage removal costs are rising. Not to mention the fact that landfills are filling up at a steadily increasing rate as populations grow. But did you know that there are several environmentally-friendly, cost-efficient ways to reduce your food waste?
The best option may be commercial composting – finding a service to take your leftover food scraps and bring them to a large-scale composting facility. Composting is an increasingly popular trend in the restaurant industry for a lot of reasons, but many restaurants are unable to compost on-site in an effective manner due to space restrictions, time and labor involved, or even due to a lack of general composting knowhow. Restaurants produce a lot of organic waste, and unless they are able compost on-site, the only other option used to be to just throw it all away.
However, most cities around the country now have a commercial composting service, which means you can compost your food waste —even if you can’t swing it on-site.
The 4-1-1 On Commercial Composting Services
The benefits of composting are obvious: your restaurant’s profit margin will grow due to reduced waste removal costs, and the environment and gardens everywhere will benefit from the rich mulch produced by your efforts.
But actually composting your organic waste can be tricky; your restaurant produces quite a lot of it—and it’ll keep piling up, day after day. That means you either need to be a very effective and immediate composter, or you’ll have to leave it to someone else.
While not a widespread service yet, the composting industry is steadily growing in size and frequency. Available in most major cities around the U.S., compost facilities acts as a secondary organic waste removal service. They will come to your business or multi-tenant apartment building and pick up your food scraps, providing you with the bins or other equipment necessary to hold the food waste.
Many of these services offer solutions that can ease the burden of separating organic from non-organic waste, most often by way of biodegradable bags. These bags can be sealed when full, thus solving the problem of waiting for the composting service to come and pick up your organic waste. These bags not only make for easy transfer and storage, but they also keep things from getting smelly and keep vermin away—so your restaurant stays clean and free of health code violations.
Commercial facilities also invest in industrial composting equipment, which streamlines the commercial composting process. These awesome businesses compost so you don’t have to! Try looking a compost facility close to your restaurant on sites like FindAComposter.com.
Restaurants in Milwaukee, WI can take advantage of the commercial composting services offered by Compost Crusader – a locally-owned business that picks up food scraps from restaurants, apartment buildings and other businesses and turns them into compost. Earth Stew in Madison, WI offers a similar service and will soon be expanding to nearby cities. In Indiana, Earth Mama Compost is happy to collect compost from businesses in Indianapolis.
Another benefit to supporting industrial compost development programs is the potential for job creation. Thousands of jobs could be created for workers at composting facilities, fleet vehicle builders and mechanics, and more.
Other Environmentally-Friendly Options
What if you can’t find a composting service readily available? There are still other viable options that work for both your restaurant and the environment.
What is vermicomposting? Put simply: worm farms. These mini self-contained worm buckets can reduce the smell of composting and allow you to compost on a smaller scale, if you’d rather do something than nothing at all. Soil gets exhausted quickly from overuse, most often due to farming. Vermicomposting is essentially feeding worms your leftover vegetable scraps, allowing the worms to do what they do: act as a natural soil conditioner. The worms can quickly and effectively recondition exhausted soil so your smaller on-site garden can be replenished and enriched.
2. Stock Animal Feed
Most food waste can be put to good use feeding stock animals such as pigs or goats. If you want to avoid throwing away some of your organic waste, try asking local farmers if they’d like to take it off of your hands to use as animal food. This will require separate containers like 5 gallon buckets or rubbermaid tubs where you can keep the food scraps until they can be collected. Farmers will likely only be able to stop by once or twice a week for pick-ups, so keep that in mind when considering this option.
Also, while this can be a great option for leftover vegetables, fruits and grains, most livestock are herbivores and don’t commonly eat a lot of meat or eggs. Most farmers will request that you keep meat and egg scraps away from the food waste they would pick up to feed to their animals.
3. Compostable Packaging
If you want to do your part and help the environment, offer your restaurant patrons the opportunity to compost on their own. Try biodegradable to-go packaging like Vegware instead of environmentally destructive products like Styrofoam. You’ll gain peace of mind and your customers will thank you for it!
Making the World a Better Place
Many restaurants find that by effectively separating their organic waste from all other non-biodegradable waste, they can offset the cost of utilizing a commercial composting service. Often times, the money saved by reducing their standard waste removal costs pays for the commercial composting service.
So even if your overall waste removal costs stay the same, you’re still making a positive contribution to the environment and to your community. When you communicate your environmental advocacy to the public, and they understand what you’re doing to be more green, you’ll draw in more business. Today’s educated consumers like to support green efforts.
Your restaurant can do this. It’s not just about saving money (though talk about a major bonus!). It’s about sowing the seeds of preservation and protecting our planet. Our waste isn’t just garbage as soon as the useful parts are used and consumed. The value in recycling food scraps and other organic waste is a part of the bigger picture, and by being a proactive contributor to the solution, your restaurant—and our planet—will reap the rewards for years to come.