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How to Build an Organics Recycling Program

How to Build an Organics Recycling Program

One of the most interesting presentations at the recent Critical Issues Conference of the Society for Foodservice Management (SFM) in New York recently was on “Steps to Implement an Organics Recycling Program”. It was delivered by Michael Manna, a consultant whose company, Environmental Resources, helps firms deal with waste management issues.

Here are some of Manna's recommendations:

Appoint a program manager (one for each site in multiple-location operations) who will oversee and monitor the new recycling program, train employees and report on program results.

Conduct a site tour of your facilities to assess space needs in the production/serving areas as well as the waste receptacles in the rear that might be downsized once a recycling program is implemented.

Conduct a cost-benefit analysis that includes a waste audit to determine how much organic waste you are actually generating, since that will determine whether it is even feasible to engage an organics-specific hauler (you might also consider consolidating your organic waste with that of other nearby kitchens to make it viable for potential haulers).

Locate a hauler who can transport your organic waste to a compost facility in your area (assuming one exists). This need not be your current hauler and, ideally, should be one which already has a good working relationship with a compost facility.

Determine the kind of collection system you will use to gather organic waste at the generation source (i.e., your café). The collection method your hauler will use will depend on the amount of waste you generate and the type of collection the hauler providers (toter vs. compactor).

Sign the contracts with the hauler and compost facility, acquire the necessary equipment and supplies, conduct staff training and place the equipment.

Generate interest, excitement and buy-in for the new program by throwing a kick-off organics party, sending personalized letters to associates (including some incentives to spur involvement) and informing your vendors and inviting their participation.

Continue to monitor and provide quality control to ensure that the program has fostered a long-term cultural change in your organization and that it continues to operate effectively.

Keep upper management informed about the ongoing success of the program. You might also consider writing up a case study about your experiences and results to aid other organizations considering a similar move.

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