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Restaurant Recycling Guide

Restaurant Recycling Guide

Posted by Trash Cans Unlimited on 2nd Oct 2019

Many restaurants recycling and waste management plan only goes as far as the dumpster. Food service can be a hectic and challenging environment in which to work, so sanitation can often fall by the wayside. It’s easier to throw everything away than it is to create a detailed recycling plan, organize all the pickups, and manage everything.

But, if you’re here, you still want to know how to reduce recycling waste and about restaurant food waste management. We’re here to help, and with a little work and planning beforehand, maintaining and running a recycling plan for a restaurant doesn’t have to be a boat-load of work, and it can save you time and money in the long run! Skeptical? Read on to discover more.

Step 1: Do an audit

How can restaurants recycle? Well, the first step to implementing an effective restaurant recycling plan is to do a waste audit. This is probably the most intense and work-heavy part of the process, but even a half-measure when doing the audit can result in major dividends down the road.

So what is a waste audit? Basically, it’s you and your staff taking a careful look at what your restaurant throws away. It sounds a little gross to be sorting through trash, but that’s essentially what the audit is. Here’s the simplest way to do this, especially if you’re a small to medium sized restaurant.

  1. Set up bins for food scraps and food waste, bins for recyclables (if you want to sort by specifics, you can do that too), and bins for other forms of non-food waste.
  2. Make a checklist for employees to mark each time they empty a bin.
  3. After a week, see what the checklists look like.

After that week passes, you know how much was being thrown away from each bin, and that will give you the information to figure out your next step. To reduce the load on your employees, you can just have them throw all the things from the different bins away; the point is to track the amount of times each thing is tossed out, not sort it specifically yet.

Step 2: Be realistic about your goals

So, once you’ve done your audit, you’ll have some basic information about the majority of things that are being thrown away in your restaurant. Remember the three Rs of recycling--Reduce, reuse, recycle. Restaurant reuse can be a great potential option. Now, it’s time for some goal setting. Identify which of these goals is most important to you:

  • Saving time (and therefore money)
  • Improving the environment
  • Reducing overall waste

These options aren’t mutually exclusive, you can go for one or all three. But, the time investment to implement a recycling plan as well as the cost of doing so might not be effective for your particular business. Scheduling recycling pickups and composting can be expensive, so check the available options in your area. But, sometimes these programs can net you extra cash if there are organizations that have bottle buyback programs for instance. Finding the right restaurant recycling services as well as having a good supply of restaurant recycling bins are important steps. Often, many commercial kitchen waste disposal companies have recycling programs.

Step 3: Get the right equipment

Once you’ve got a plan and know whether you’re going to do waste disposal, additional recycling, or additional composting, you can acquire the equipment you need. Here’s what you’ll need for each type of disposal:

  • Composting:
  • Recycling:
  • Waste:

Step 4: Prepare your staff

Making sure to train and update your staff, as well as building duty schedules for proper disposal is key to success. One strategy that is often very effective is to give one manager the responsibility of making sure that trash is being properly disposed of. Having a person who is in charge and accountable to the plan is tantamount to that plan’s success.

Having an employee meeting where you lay out the trash disposal plan and give everyone the opportunity to ask questions is a great way to get employee buy-in. Emphasizing that the new system will reduce the overall work for everyone, as well as saving the restaurant time and money, is a great way to get everyone on board.

Step 5: Implement and learn

At this point, it’s time to implement your new restaurant recycling and waste program. Keeping a close eye on everything and determining what is and isn’t working is essential to your program’s success. After two weeks or a month, it’ll be time for a reevaluation. Talk to the person you put in charge of making sure that the waste disposal plan was a success, and see how you can adjust.

It’s important to remember that if something isn’t working, trying to force it to work isn’t going to make sense. Keeping an eye on if your waste management plan is more trouble than it’s worth will ensure that you’re making smart decisions for your restaurant.

If you have questions or are looking for the right disposal materials to make your restaurant work, or recycling containers for the kitchen, get in touch with us, and we’ll help you out.