Food Waste for Thought

Restaurants and grocers explore options to meet food waste recycling mandates and reduce waste costs.

Recycling has become the preferred method for dealing with food waste in municipalities where landfills are reaching capacity.  Cities across the country are mandating food establishments with larger tonnages of food waste divert and recycle. According to the National Restaurant Association, 65% of restaurant owners are already implementing some type of food waste recycle program.

Recycling food waste has positives beyond meeting mandates. Proactive restaurateurs are discovering recycled food waste can reduce their waste costs by more than 20%.

Restaurants have discovered that recycling food waste can reduce their waste costs by more than 20%. 

There are a variety of ways to recycle food waste. Composting, digesting machines, and diversion opportunities are all viable options. If you have multiple locations it may require recycling management, a service that finds local recycling opportunities, provides long-term savings and ensures protection from penalties and fines that can accrue from not being compliant to local recycling laws.

A well managed program may contain a variety of diversion opportunities such as donating edible food to a local food pantry, vegetable waste to a farmer for composting and food scraps to a livestock owner. Composting machines and food waste digesters introduce a new option for businesses looking to be efficient. These machines come in a variety of different styles, sizes and processes.  For example, a food waste digester can turn all types of food waste into valuable composting material in as little as 4 hours.

Recycling Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) is another important component to restaurant recycling and is a widely mandated process.  There are two types of grease, yellow and brown.  Yellow grease is the grease used in fryers and when recycled must be stored in an approved oil and grease recycle container. There is a market for this type of recyclable grease. Waste grease collectors can sell yellow grease which is recycled into items such as cosmetics, soaps and bio-diesel fuel. Records must be kept that indentify who and where the yellow grease is taken.  Brown grease is the grease and oil that comes from settled solids and is retained by grease interceptors and grease traps. This type of waste must be managed properly to prevent pipe blockage which can result in costly water pollution and sewage back-ups.

Environmental Impact

According to the EPA, when food waste is sent to the landfill it rots and becomes a source of methane. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming effect of carbon dioxide. In the U.S. we waste around 40% of all edible foods. An estimated 36 million tons of food wastes are generated each year, of that, only 5% is currently being recycled.  By diverting and recycling we can cut these alarming GHG emissions, meet local food waste mandates and cut waste costs by diverting it from the landfill.

National Waste Associates provides waste and recycling services for businesses with multiple locations. We understand food waste recycling is complicated in today’s marketplace, which is why we design customized solutions based on your individual locations. For more information on food waste recycling and to learn how National Waste Associates can reduce your waste costs with our professionally managed services and recycling programs,  call  1-888-692-5005 or email sales@nationalwaste.com .