Waste

Recycling

Problem 

·      The average restaurant produces 100,000 pounds of garbage per year. 

Solution 

·      Recycle all materials that are commercially accepted in your area

·      Adjust purchasing policies to decrease the amount of waste

In 2009, we generated 243.0 million tons of waste in the United States.  That can be translated to 4.59 pounds of waste per day per person.  Also in 2009, America recycled roughly 33.8% of solid waste from homes and businesses, the rest being incinerated or tossed into landfills (70).

Typically, close to 95% of restaurants’ waste could be recycled or composted. When restaurants choose not to recycle, there are a number of consequences: 

·      Overcrowded landfills 

·      Land, water and groundwater pollution 

·      Air pollution from incinerators 

·      Long-term economic losses through unsustainable resource use 

Recycling not only diverts waste from landfills and incinerators, but also supplies material for post-consumer recycled products. Recycling saves natural resources, energy, pollution, and money. In the years 2001-2002, a medium-sized Certified Green Restaurant® in San Diego saved $2220 per year after implementing a comprehensive recycling program. Most recently, Kimpton’s restaurant recycling programs carried out in 43 locations save more than $86,000/year and more than 10,000 trees (69.5). 

Examples of items that can be recycled versus thrown away include: 

Paper - Cardboard, office & menu paper, etc. 

Plastic - Beverage, food and cleaning product containers 

Glass - Wine, beer, soft drink, and other beverage bottles 

Metal - Food and beverage cans 

Grease, oil & bone waste 

Ink & toner cartridges 

Fluorescent lamps & ballasts 

Batteries 

Paper & Cardboard 

Plastic 

Glass - In 2009, 37 billion glass containers were produced in the U.S. In 2009, glass made up 4.8% of U.S. solid waste, totaling 11.8 million tons. Roughly 20%, or 3 million tons of this glass was recycled. All of this glass is recyclable, but most ended up in landfills or incinerators. In 2009, 20% of all glass produced in the U.S. was recycled, decreased from 36% in 1996, while approximate with the rate in 1988. In 2009, Americans consumed: 

·      6.00 million tons of beer & soft drink bottles = 39% recycled 

·      1.71 million tons of wine & liquor bottles = 18.1% recycled

·       1.95 million tons of other jars = 17.9% recycled 

·      2,12 million tons of durable goods  =0% recycled 

Metal - In 2009, metals made up 6.5% of U.S. solid waste, totaling 20.9 million tons. Between 1975 and 1996 U.S. consumption of aluminum beverage cans increased from less than 20 billion to about 100 billion, an increase of 500%. Most of these materials are recyclable, but ended up in landfills or incinerators. In 2009, 7.2 million tons of metals were recycled in the U.S. The average aluminum beverage can in the U.S. contains about 51% post consumer recycled aluminum (71). Aluminum can recycling saves 95% of the energy needed to make aluminum compared to mining virgin materials. 

Products That Contain Mercury - The U.S. EPA issued the first federal universal waste rule for mercury-containing equipment in 1995. Universal wastes are items such as batteries, thermostats, pesticides, and lamps that are commonly thrown into the trash by households and small businesses. These standards are designed to encourage collection and keep these wastes out of municipal landfills and incinerators. 

When mercury leaches out of landfills and into water, microorganisms convert some portion to methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury. There is growing evidence that methylmercury exposure can have adverse cardiovascular effects for adults, resulting in elevated blood pressure and incidence of heart attack.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, eight% of the women of childbearing age have levels of mercury in their blood that exceeds the level EPA considers safe – primarily due to air pollution from power plants (72). 

Grease - The average full-service restaurant will wash 9 to 20 pounds of grease down the drain for every 150 meals served. Grease waste has the potential to severely impact operations and, in some cases, violate wastewater discharges. Recycling grease has become common practice but the by-products are often things like animal feed. A more sustainable option is to find a hauler that can recycle waste grease into biodiesel - which emits 78% less carbon dioxide than conventional diesel (71.5) – or energy. 


Composting 

Composting is nature's way of recycling organic material into soil. Food scraps, leaves, yard trimmings, paper, wood, manures, and the remains of agricultural crops are excellent organic materials to use. Composting not only helps to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills, it produces a valuable soil amendment which can improve the texture, fertility, and water retention of the soil. 

Food waste comprises about half of a restaurant’s waste stream. In 2009, food waste made up 14.1% of U.S. solid waste, totaling 34 million tons. Less than 3% of that waste was composted, the rest was sent to a landfill or incinerator. Commercial composting is now available in over a dozen cities nationwide and many cities, such as San Francisco and Portland, have implemented residential composting programs.   ​