The food industry is one where the production of surplus amounts of waste is to be expected. But for many, this runs afoul of efforts being made to protect the environment and reduce our carbon footprint. There are options available for restaurant owners and managers that can help to reduce the amount of waste that they create. Here are six steps that will increase recycling in your restaurant.
Appoint a Champion
In any organization, the creation of a new role is almost mandatory when starting any new initiative. This is also the case in restaurants trying to create a recycling program. In the case of recycling programs, this is typically called a champion. This person will be the point of contact for everything to do with the recycling program.
There are several qualifications that your champion must possess in order for your program to succeed. The first is that they must be energetic and excited about the program. They must also be able to spread that excitement to the rest of the crew. Your champion must also be able to effectively convey the importance of the program and what benefits there are for taking part in it.
A champion’s job has two major job responsibilities. The first is to find new ways for your restaurant to improve recycling. They will be responsible for creating the roadmap forward for your restaurant. If you run a large store or have multiple locations, it may help to have a person appointed for each restaurant or to have a committee to handle the increased responsibilities.
Perform a Waste Audit
After appointing your champion, you should perform a waste audit of your restaurant. A waste audit is a way to analyze your current solid waste practices. When doing an audit, you want to figure out everything that is being thrown away and anything that can instead be turned into recycling.
A proper waste audit will take about a week to complete. This will help to create a baseline amount for how much trash your restaurant produces each day. You ideally want to get an average of how much trash and recyclable materials your restaurant is producing. Try to time it so that you will be performing the audit during a time when conditions are as close to normal as possible.
The goal of a waste audit is to determine what is being thrown away and recycled each day. You should aim to figure out how much of each type of waste you produce. Different categories of waste that the champion records should include paper products, plastic, and any food waste. Performing these audits gives a baseline for what is thrown away each day and shines a light on areas that need improvement.
Create a Plan
After the audit is complete, your recycling champion should come up with an action plan for how to improve the recycling process in your restaurant. The plan should begin with the basics and expand from there.
Start by identifying the items that should be recycled that are in every restaurant but that normally are thrown away instead of recycled, like cardboard. This helps the environment and saves space in your dumpster that can be used for actual trash instead. Purchasing reusable materials like metal flatware and glass cups cuts down on operating expenses and is good for the environment.
Train Your Staff
If your employees aren’t fully committed, the program is doomed to fail from the start. With your champion and action plan in place, the next step is to begin the process of training your staff on the new program. Teach them to identify potential areas of improvement and get them excited about creating solutions to these problems.
Training your employees also includes showing them why what you were doing in the past was bad, why your new course of action is an improvement, and the benefits that they will see from the successful implementation of the program. Your workers are not always going to have the same attachment to your restaurant as the owner, so try to motivate the staff by showing them how their jobs will improve.
Start To Compost
One of the unconventional ways to increase recycling in your restaurant is to start composing the leftover biodegradable waste. According to the EPA, food waste accounted for 63.1 million tons, with an estimated 56% of that ending up in landfills in 2018. That is just a single year of food waste, not taking into account any of the other recyclables that are thrown away every day. But composting turns that waste into a usable product just by doing nothing and letting it sit for a few months.
Organic waste makes great fertilizer for plants once it has had the opportunity to break down. Taking the step to start composting will help keep garbage out of landfills by redirecting it to the garden instead. Common items found in restaurants that can be composted include food scraps, coffee grinds, paper towels, and napkins. There are some exceptions to this, including coffee cups and certain types of paper, so be sure to educate your staff on what can and cannot be thrown into the compost heap.
Proper Trash Bins
The last way to increase your restaurant’s recycling efforts is to install proper trash bins. New trash bins are an essential component of a recycling program’s success because they force the employees and customers to choose between recycling and just throwing it in the trash. Determine the collection points for trash and recycling by looking at areas of high traffic and where there has been a buildup of waste in the past. If the trash bins that you order don’t already come with indicators for trash and recycling, create signage using pictures to show the proper bin for waste products.
This is where ordering new commercial trash bins from Trash Can Depot can come in handy. We have a huge selection of trash cans for indoor and outdoor use that can blend into nearly any environment. Contact us today for more information on our waste bin solutions and to order some for your restaurant.