Restaurants can do to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Whether your restaurant is known for its fine fare or speedy service, you have many opportunities to reduce waste and recycle. By modifying procurement practices and disposal habits, your restaurant can reduce disposal costs considerably.
The best place to begin reducing waste is at its source, in the procurement process. Ask your suppliers' representatives to keep you abreast of products that contain recycled content, are packaged in ways which can reduce the amount of material disposed and are packaged in recyclable materials. When suppliers cannot reduce packaging, ask them to take it back for reuse whenever possible.
Your restaurant already may use some recycling and waste reduction measures. Take a look at the following list of suggestions for reducing, reusing and recycling in restaurants.
Try integrating a few of these ideas every few months. You'll be amazed at the reduction in your waste and its associated disposal costs.
Buy and serve beverages in concentrate or bulk form. For instance, serve beer and carbonated beverages from a beverage gun or dispenser, rather than by the bottle or can; buy bar mixes in concentrate form, reconstitute and portion them into reusable serving containers; and buy and use dispenser beverages like juice, iced tea and hot chocolate in concentrate or bulk form.
Use refillable condiment bottles, and refill with condiments purchased in bulk, instead of portion-controlled packets.
Buy bulk foods, such as shelf-stable food supplies, uncut meat and shelled eggs, when possible and feasible.
Buy cleaning supplies in concentrate, and use multi-purpose cleaners that can be used for all types of surfaces.
Print daily specials on a chalkboard or dry-erase board, rather than printing daily specials on new sheets of paper every day.
Minimize excessive use of disposable and non-recyclable packaging. Serve straws from dispensers, distribute condiments and cutlery from behind the counter to control portioning, use minimal packaging to wrap take-out items and offer pre-packaged food in recyclable packaging.
Reuse, When Possible
Find alternative uses for packaging. Durable plastic containers and buckets can be reused in a variety of ways. For example, some restaurants have used their five-gallon pickle and mayonnaise buckets as containers to collect recyclables.
Use reusable coffee filters. Quality cotton, silk or metal filters can replace the cartons of paper filters restaurants go through in a given year.
Use reusable china, silverware, coasters and table linens. Install hot-air hand dryers in the restrooms, rather than offer disposable paper towels.
Recycle to Lower Disposal Costs and It’s the Law
Recycle corrugated cardboard boxes and mixed paper. Check with your recycling contractor to see if waxed cardboard boxes can be recycled. Many recycling facilities now accept waxed-coated items for recycling.
Recycle glass containers. Clear, green and brown glass bottles and jars can all be recycled into new glass containers. Provide bins for glass in locations close to where bottles are generated, such as the dish room, bus stations, and bar. As with all recyclables, the more convenient the recycling container placement is, the more successful the recycling program will be.
Recycle all plastic bottles and containers.
Recycle aluminum cans and foil products, and bi-metal (steel/tin) cans. Restaurants that use canned fruits and vegetables may find a recycler willing to collect tin cans.
Place a recycling bin in the dining area for customers' empty recyclables, so they can participate in your program as well.
If your business sells food or beverages in recyclable packaging for consumption on-site, you are required to provide your customers with recycling bins for those recyclable containers.
Recycle scrap metal such as appliances and metal furniture. Contact a scrap metal recycler for collection services or self-haul scrap metal directly to a scrap metal processor.
Contribute to a food bank. Restaurants may contribute edible but unsalable food to a local food bank or charitable organization. Also, donate old uniforms to thrift shops.
Compost food waste by separating uncooked produce, wood pallets and other organics from regular waste. If you separate compostable waste from garbage and keep it free of contaminants such as shrink wrap, your waste collection company might agree to take it to a recycler which will turn the food waste into compost, a rich soil amendment.
Let your customers know about your successful recycling program. Chart and post it, along with information on recycling and solid waste issues, in your restaurant. Mention your recycling program in your advertising and promotional programs.
Provide recycling education as a part of new employee orientation information. Walk the new employees through the recycling system. Periodically, provide positive reinforcement about the recycling program during staff meetings. Ask employees for their suggestions and input.
Buy Recycled Products
Close the recycling loop by purchasing recycled products. Print menus on recycled paper and purchase to-go bags, tissue, towels, toilet seat covers, and janitorial supplies that contain recycled content.
What are other Montgomery County restaurants doing to reduce, reuse and recycle
We'd like to add your restaurant to our list of recyclers, so let us know how you are doing! If you have a concern or issue you wish to discuss, or a success story you want to share, please contact us.
For more information:
Please contact the Montgomery County SORRT (Smart Organizations Reduce and Recycle Tons) Program at 3-1-1 (out-of-County: 240-777-0311, TTY: 240-773-3556).