Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

Weighing the Merits of Recycling In the Restaurant

September 23, 2013

While more than 60 percent of the restaurants in the U.S. take at least some measures to reduce waste, the choice of implementing a recycling program in the establishment is still not an easy one. Even if there are plenty of recycling options in the city where your restaurant is, costs can still be prohibitive. Here are the major points to consider:

The Costs Associated with Restaurant Recycling Programs

While recycling pickup is now free in many cities, there are still some costs associated with getting an in-house recycling program up and running. You’ll need to consider things like buying the proper recycling bins or color-coded bags, possibly enlarging the trash corral as well as the cost of switching to recyclable or compostable disposables such as take-out containers.

Then there’s also the cost of providing regular training to employees in a high-turnover industry. If the costs outweigh the benefits, a full-fledged recycling program may not be the best choice for your establishment. That said, even doing something as simple as keeping your cardboard boxes out of the trash can have an impact on lowering the cost and frequency of waste removal, and is relatively simple and free to implement.

The Benefits of an In-House Recycling Program

When considering whether or not a recycling program is the best fit for your restaurant, the first question you need to ask yourself is how much you are paying for waste services now. Many city recycling services are free since recycling has become a profitable business, but removal of garbage is not.

Landfills cost money, so it pays to reduce the amount of garbage waste your establishment is producing. Some restaurants have saved as much as 30 percent on their monthly waste service costs simply by implementing single-stream recycling and adjusting the number of times waste is removed from the business each week.

The second question to ask yourself is what your reasons are for wanting to recycle. Do you have a commitment as a company to social responsibility, the environment, and/or the community in general? Or is your motivation strictly cost-associated?

If the motivating factor is a commitment to doing something good, any incurred costs in the effort may not matter. Composting and recycling can actually help bring you more clientele, and letting your customers know that you are helping the environment pays off in improved customer approval and loyalty. The community wants services that are environmentally aware and will take notice of businesses that are working with that consciousness in mind.

Creative Waste Management in the Restaurant

While you may or may not have a zero-waste goal in which everything that leaves your restaurant is either recyclable or compostable, there are a number of ways to creatively manage the waste your establishment produces. Along with switching out all disposables such as carry-out containers for their compostable counterparts, it’s a great idea to alert customers to your efforts and encourage them to help wherever possible – say, by bringing in their own travel cups or using your ceramic options instead of that disposable drink container.

Separation of food waste also starts right when the table gets cleared, and training your employees to sort things properly can be as simple as providing color-coded bags and instructional wall posters. The diligence of each location’s manager is also important in the overall success of the program.

Regardless of whether your recycling efforts start small or go full-scale, the cost-reduction and feel-good benefits of working toward waste reduction will pay off for both your business and the community at large.