All Articles Food Restaurant and Foodservice Solve your packaging recycling problem in 5 steps

Solve your packaging recycling problem in 5 steps

3 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

So you want to start recycling, but you don’t have a clue how to start.

Earlier, we suggested recycling your back-of-the-house cardboard as an easy first step. If you’re ready to take it further, consider the five steps outlined in a new Foodservice Packaging Recovery Toolkit  from the Foodservice Packaging Institute and the National Restaurant Association.

Tune into our free April 21 webinar for more details on these steps:

  • Do a waste audit. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so know your trash! Download a free self-audit form from the toolkit or hire an expert to do an audit for you.
  • Make changes with waste service providers. Here is where the savings come in! Get your recycling picked up and you’ll be able to downsize your trash service.
  • Install a new bin system. Your customers and staff need the right bins for their recyclable and compostable packaging. Buy well-designed, color-coded bins for the front of the house, and rugged, practical, color-coded, shape-coded bins for the back of the house. You could use red square boxes for compost and blue round bins for recycling in the back of the house, for example. Label bins accurately. Use our toolkit to print your own signage.
    (Image: NRA)

  • Educate your team. What are your restaurant’s goals for recycling? What items can be recycled? What types of contamination should be avoided (for example, forks in the compost bin)? Talk to your staff about your goals and the recycling process. Help them understand what it takes to sort, transport and maintain your recycling and composting program. Keep in mind that training is an ongoing process, not a one-time deal. Continue to reinforce your training and messages.
  • Promote your program. Your recycling initiatives take quite a bit of work, so let your customers know what you’re doing. Educate them about separating recycling, composting and trash. Help them understand why your company wants to minimize its garbage.

These five steps will help you launch your recycling and composting efforts and put you on the road to monetary savings, which can be significant.

According to Nick Melvin, executive chef and owner at Venkman’s restaurant in Atlanta, after they initiated their composting and recycling program, “We ended up saving approximately $200 per month on overall waste removal.” Atlanta has some of the lowest trash hauling costs in the US, so savings could be even greater for restaurants in other states!

Visit the NRA’s Conserve program for other steps toward sustainability.


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