How Restaurants Can Reduce Their Carbon Footprint with Composting
Are you a restaurant owner looking to help fight climate change? We all know about the different ways we can change our energy consumption to say, a solar farm or company that sells solar to your current provider.
But what many restaurant owners don’t know is that the amount of waste a restaurant puts out (which is substantially a top producer of waste compared to an office building or retail business) contributes to the production of a ton of greenhouse gasses by sending that food waste to a landfill.
So how can we reduce that carbon footprint with all this food waste? By using the natural way of decomposition and turning that waste into compost to be used as fertilizer for future fruits and veggies!
Composting at the Restaurant
The first step in composting is finding a container; this could be as simple as a trash can with proper lid with ventilation holes. Then you’ll need to get some soil or starter compost with leaves and grass clippings. Landscapers might be a good help in obtaining these clippings. Finally, you’ll need a shovel to rotate compost. An alternative could be investing in professional composter to help make the process cleaner and easier to turn.
Find a place for the compost bin – remember it needs to be easy accessible at the end of a shift for dumping, but it could smell if not turned frequently or not having proper ventilation. If there is room near your dumpster that would be best. However, it’s important the lid is secured (yet must be ventilated) to not attract pests and rodents.
Add the soil - a good amount at the bottom, then layer soil as you add food waste. Turn compost weekly and make sure it stays moist. Compost will be ready in 6-12 months, when it’s nearly a black and crumbly soil.
Get the Staff on Board
Educate your staff (both front and back) on how to use the composter, what is allowed in it (more on that in a minute) and place the responsibility on a member of each house (empower a more dedicated employee to oversee it is being used).
You’ll want to have a system of temporary waste bins located right next to your trash cans so staff can clean plates and bus tubs quickly during rushes. You must make it as convenient as possible and have bins next to every trash bin.
Make use of signs in the back of the house that are reminders for the staff to add food waste into the correct bins during every shift, then take the bins out to the composter with the trash at the end of the night.
You can take your efforts to the next level by using biodegradable products in your restaurant – napkins, plates, take out containers, trash bags – there can go right in with your food waste.
Things you can compost: food and vegetables, coffee grounds and napkins, paper napkins, cardboard and newspaper, wood ashes if you have a wood oven.
Things that can't be composted include dairy products, coal or charcoal askes, meat and bones, oil, fat, and grease, and any toxic materials.
If you think this is all going to be too much for your restaurant is too busy or you don’t have the space, or your staff is too lazy – whatever the reason is, there is still hope: composting services. Look for a service in your area that will pick up your waste, provide containers, train your staff, etc. to take some of the load off your efforts.
Finally, promote the fact that you’re introducing composting into your restaurants daily operating activities. Your current customers will appreciate the steps you’re taking to reduce the carbon footprint your restaurant has (and will become more loyal) but will also bring new customers in the door as they hear about your efforts. Whatever method you choose to pursue, good luck and thanks for making your community a better place!