As you probably know, the US restaurant business wastes an uncomfortable amount of food and material in their ordinary course. Sadly, the public knows this all too well.
That’s one reason sustainable commerce easily draws out higher customer retention rates, even as they cut needless operating expenses from their bottom line. Such restaurants reduce waste, carbon impressions, and gain higher ROI without sacrificing staff hours or quality standards. It also gives restaurant marketing an eco-friendly edge.
In short, recycling and composting programs for your restaurant can support higher margins, faster growth, and (of course) more sustainable business operations—in every sense of the word.
Secure these benefits, and learn how to implement recycling and composting programs with this fast, five-step guide to more sustainable restaurants.
Key Takeaway: Restaurant composting and recycling requires awareness. More sustainable restaurant success hinges on sharing insights with staff and public to create better business rewards through eco-friendly practices.
Restaurant Recycling and Composting: 5 Steps to Success
Follow these five simple steps to implement composting and recycling in your restaurant. Then, start the process over when you’re ready to re-evaluate your results and count up the rewards of composting and recycling for business.
1. Evaluate Restaurant Waste in Audits
Food waste plagues the food service industry at large. With most wastage coming directly from restaurants, cafes, and fast food, the need to reduce, reuse, and financially recoup has become pressing. More sustainable restaurants that cut food waste and implement sustainable programs for recycling and composting save an average of $27,000 per year while investing less than $6,000.
As you explore waste management strategies and principles, start applying lean waste management for your food service business with a waste audit. At the end of your restaurant waste audit, you should clearly articulate and calculate three things:
- where your primary waste rates come from
- how much this waste costs your business’ bottom line
- where recycling and composting in your restaurant can assist
Once your findings are polished and precise, find time to educate your staff on objectives for the restaurant’s waste management. Here you can showcase the opportunity for more efficiency, higher standards, and roomier budgets by showing where you are with waste. Then, ultimately, you can share organization-wide goals for staff support.
2. Introduce Staff Sustainability Training
One key to successful composting and recycling programs in your restaurant will be designating a point of contact for all things sustainable. This educator, trainer, and guide should know the in’s and out’s of commercial composting and restaurant recycling to help gradually change the awareness, culture, and practices of waste management in your restaurant.
Essential points for education, training, and staff management include:
- Engaging staff in the meaningful impact of recycling and composting programs
- Breaking down the details of which foods and items to compost, recycle, or send to the landfill
- Advise staff in daily operations by answering questions and concerns about sustainable programs
This person can also stay up-to-date on recycling and composting for restaurants to ensure your sustainable restaurant programs offer every element of restaurant success.
3. Collect Insight on Waste and Packaging
Such a “sustainable restaurant coordinator” might oversee the up’s and down’s of recycling and composting programs for continuous improvement, but they can also be ears-on-the-ground to collect feedback directly from staff and through customer surveys.
These insights can point to important, necessary changes to food waste practices in your restaurant. They may also lead to innovation for customer-facing procedures among to-go orders, food packaging, and in-house dining. In this way, composting and restaurant recycling programs will be as practical as they are ready to promote to the public.
4. Aim Menus and Marketing at Eco-Friendly Customers
More and more, customers want to feel empowered by the purchases they make with their valued dollar. When you have sustainable practices on your side, it becomes much easier to promote more expensive dishes with recipes that actually cost less in food wastage.
In addition, you’re able to support loyalty programs and buy-in for new customers more easily, especially as you retain more who value eco-friendly pivots. As you implement internal changes, make sure to give them a public, promo-worthy face as well through new menu options, social marketing, and brand management.
5. Monitor Programs for Improved Performance
Ensure your programs are well-documented and carefully followed. To see the true benefits of restaurant composting and recycling, you’ll need to measure and monitor restaurant KPIs linked to sustainability.
Some essential points of information include:
- total amount of waste diverted and reused against local landfills
- portion or percentage of food waste costs redirected to operations
- actual volume of nutrient-rich compost created by your programs
- estimated benefit to your restaurant business with calculated ROI
As you collect this data, keep all the other steps in this process going:
- Arm your sustainability restaurant advocates with the information they need to motivate staff.
- Equip your corporate teams and restaurant leadership with the good news about business changes.
- Tactfully promote the local good you’re doing with the support of customer ordering, dining, and loyalty
By staying aware and informed on all sides, your restaurant recycling and composting plans will become the seed from which a stronger, more robust branch of business can grow. In the final analysis, this will help you build a resilient business.
Frequently Asked Questions About Restaurant Recycling and Composting Programs
See how recycling and composting programs in your restaurant can contribute to a greener, leaner, and more profitable business from a practical perspective. Explore what composting is fundamentally and what benefits it brings commercial businesses like restaurants.
Then, decide what you will or will not reuse, recycle, or compost with a quick list of common items salvaged by sustainable restaurant practices. Dive into better waste management, more attractive practices, and higher efficiency standards with these answers.
What composting and recycling programs do for restaurants?
Recycling and composting in your restaurant actively turns organic and inorganic waste into valuable resources. With food waste (like eggshells, pasta, coffee grounds, etc.), composting helps rejuvenate soils, creating bin upon bin of healthy, nutrient dense soils to feed the food supply chain and its farmers.
For inorganic material (such as plastic cutlery, paper goods, and so on), recycling offsets damage to the environment, cutting your carbon footprint on the environment with practices that safely reuse items—or funnel them into reproduction as shopping bags, new bottles, shoelaces so much more.
What are the benefits of restaurant composting and recycling?
Beyond its benefits for the environment (which helps conserve the comfort and health of the planet we call home), restaurant composting and recycling offers business benefits easily overlooked by your competitors. First and foremost, today’s more conscious consumers are willing to pay a premium for a free-and-clear conscience.
Sustainable restaurants with composting and recycling programs are in a better brand position to promote healthy, high-price, and low-cost menu items. As a result, they’re also more prepared for more and more obvious ecommerce trends and sustainable standards as consumers increasingly sway toward convenience and responsibility in every direction.
What can you recycle or compost in sustainable restaurants?
With exception to foods high in fats as well as cooking oils and grill grease, the majority of restaurant waste can be composted. To enrich soil bins, composting repurposes simple fruits and vegetable scraps as well as coffee grounds, teabags, and some paper goods like cup sleeves, containers, and even certain cardstock.
Outside the kitchen, materials like aluminum, glass, steel, and dense paper goods like heavyweight, clean cardboard can be recycled into second live as different consumer products.
Some items may be specific to your restaurant, menu, and business practices, so make sure to look at your commercial kitchen and specific operations to find the right items for composting and recycling in your restaurant. Engage these programs as part of your restaurant toolkit for sustainable growth.