According to the Green Restaurant Association, the average restaurant produces 150,000 pounds of garbage each year with the majority ending up in the landfill. Just imagine how this waste can be reduced by recycling and composting. Reducing waste also presents an opportunity for cost savings as less waste means cheaper disposal costs.
Restaurant waste can be sorted into three main streams: garbage, organics and recyclables. Organics are by far the largest accounting for about 52%. This is not surprising when you consider the scraps from food preparation, leftover food and spoilage. Recyclable materials include paper, plastics, metal and glass.
Waste Reduction Opportunities in the Province
The Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Waste Management Strategy was developed in April 2002 to move the province to modern waste management practices and to achieve a 50% waste diversion goal. While significant work has been done to date, there is no consistent approach to waste management across the province. Recycling programs vary by region and municipality and there are no commercial composting opportunities.
Waste Diversion in St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Paradise, and Conception Bay South
Waste collection and recycling services are available via private haulers with final processing at the Robin Hood Bay (RHB) facility. The tipping fee for waste is $67.60 per tonne while the tipping fee for recycling is $20 per tonne. Clearly, it is cheaper to recycle than have all waste treated as garbage. To see what products can be recycled, please go to www.curbitstjohns.ca/?Content=Residents/Recycling/What_Can_I_Recycle
Did you know that commercial businesses in St. John’s may avail of curbside waste and recycling collection services as long as they adhere to residential bag limits? To learn more, go to www.curbitstjohns.ca
Reducing Food Waste
Experts estimate that 4% – 10% of food is thrown out before it ever reaches customers. Just think – if you spend $50,000 on food in a year, that’s up to $5,000 going to the landfill.According to the Sustainable Restaurant Association, 65% is prep waste, 30% is plate waste (what diners leave on their plates) and 5% is spoilage. Cleary, reducing food waste is an essential part of overall waste reduction and cost savings. To assist, the following tips are provided.
Food Waste Reduction Tips
1. Waste Audit
a. Conduct a waste audit. It’s important to learn where most of the food is being thrown out. An audit will identify if the waste is from food prep, spoilage, or customer leftovers. Unilever Food Solutions has a toolkit that allows you to track what kinds of food are thrown out.
a. Adjust inventory levels on perishable foods to minimize waste due to spoilage.
b. Rotate stocks of perishables at every delivery and put older stock at the front of the shelf
c. Inspect deliveries to avoid unusable meats and perishable items that may have opened or spilled during shipment.
a. While no commercial composting facilities presently exist, it may be possible to broker partnerships with local farmers to take your food waste. Depending on the nature and location of your restaurant, consider an on-site or backyard composting option. www.mmsb.nf.ca/backyard-composting.asp
a. Donate left over food to a food bank or community kitchen. The Newfoundland Community Food Sharing Association is an excellent organization that collects and distributes food to its 56 member agencies throughout the province. http://www.cfsa.nf.net/
i. To learn more about food donation, please see the Newfoundland and Labrador Donation of Food Act. www.assembly.nl.ca/legislation/sr/statutes/d26-1.htm
b. Encourage customers to take their leftovers. They get to enjoy great food at home and you don’t have to pay to have the waste removed!
a. Exercise portion control. More people are health conscious and aware of proper serving sizes.
b. Use up all of a food product by reviewing your menu. For example, instead of discarding vegetables, make a soup or stock.
According to Statistics Canada, 61% of meals prepared in restaurants in 2004 were eaten elsewhere. Just think of the packaging used to get these meals home. Literally tons of paper, plastic and Styrofoam ending up in landfills every year and not breaking down until hundreds of years later!
Polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam)
One of the best ways to minimize the environmental impact of food packaging is to eliminate polystyrene. While it is cheap and readily available, its environmental health impacts are long lasting. According to the Earth Resource Foundation, toxic chemicals leach out of these products into the food that they contain, especially when heated in a microwave. These chemicals threaten human health and reproductive systems.
Choose Packaging Wisely: A Note about Compostable Products
While these are excellent alternatives to polystyrene, it must be noted that these products will only breakdown in commercial composting facilities which are presently lacking in the province.
In light of the above, and until such time as commercial composting facilities exist, it would be more logical to purchase packaging products made from high content recycled materials as opposed to virgin ones. For instance, buy 100% recycled napkins and coffee lids that have been made from recycled plastic.
As the Provincial Waste Management Strategy continues to unfold, watch carefully for the implementation of commercial composting.
Suppliers of Environmentally Preferable Products
Peter Pan Sales Limited
36 Clyde Avenue, Donovan’s Industrial Park, Mount Pearl, NL Tel: (709) 747-1990
The Food Service Warehouse
General Waste Reduction Tips
1. Buy in Bulk
a. Eliminate single serving packages of condiments, yogurt, juice and milk
b. Buy bar mixes in concentrate form as opposed to ready to use mix
c. Buy cleaning supplies in concentrate form
2. Recycle…and Profit!
a. Establish a designated recycling station to capture beverage containers and get your deposit back!
The province has a well-established Beverage Container Recycling Program where consumers receive refunds when containers are returned to a recycling depot. You’ll get 5 cents on non-alcoholic containers and 10 cents on liquor containers. www.mmsb.nf.ca/beverage-containers.asp
b. Ensure that packaging is recycled including corrugate and boxboard. Call a local recycling depot or hauler to see if they will accept your corrugate at no charge. Depending on volume, you may be able to sell this. Remember to keep corrugate clean.
3. Used Cooking Oils
a. Have a designated collector pick up used kitchen oils. Eco-Oil is located in Conception Bay South and can be contacted at 709-689-3374.
4. Vendor Take Back Programs
a. Develop a “return to sender” agreement with suppliers to reuse packaging and switch to durable reusable shipping containers
b. Ask suppliers to reuse boxes. Return empty cartons to be used again.
c. Use mesh tote bags for vegetables and reusable plastic containers instead of cardboard for deliveries of eggs, fruits, poultry and fish.
d. Return milk crates and pallets for reuse.
5. Eliminate Paper Towels
a. Replacing paper towels in bathrooms with energy efficient hand dryers can be a great way to reduce waste and save money.
b. If paper towels are needed in some areas, be sure to buy recycled ones.
6. Eliminate Bottled Water
a. Eliminate bottled water and move to an in-house water carbonation system
1. The Solid Waste Innovation Fund
The Solid Waste Innovation Fund offered by MMSB is a $15,000 non-repayable contribution for the research and development of new or improved technologies, products, services, or processes that support the management of solid waste in Newfoundland and Labrador, at any stage of the waste management hierarchy (reduce, reuse, recycle, or recover).
2. MMSB 3-R Guide
The Guide identifies what can be recycled and provides resources to assist. www.mmsb.nf.ca/3rguide.asp