First is through donation. If you have cooked or ready-to-eat perishable ingredients, ensure they go to a responsible organization that can distribute them to be consumed before their expiration date. A local shelter or food pantry is a great place to take these goods to—many of them accept donations daily. This is also a good route for meats, bread, and other items that will go bad if they are not consumed.
Another avenue is composting. This is the process of breaking down organic materials so they can return to soil. Almost every natural ingredient in the kitchen or store can be composted. All that is needed are four components to get the process going:
- Carbon — the microbial oxidation of carbon produces the heat (high carbon items tend to be brown and dry);
- Nitrogen — to grow and reproduce more organisms to oxidize the carbon (high nitrogen materials tend to be colorful and wet, such as fruits and vegetables);
- Oxygen — for oxidizing the carbon, the decomposition process; and
- Water — in the right amounts to maintain activity without causing anaerobic conditions.
Before starting a composting program, contact a waste hauler to confirm it has a collection program for organics. Most businesses may use a hauler to collect items for compost, but some may want to compost on site if local regulations allow. Reach out to the waste hauler to set up the proper containers and signage. Once you confirm your waste hauler has a collection program for organics, find the right equipment and supplies needed to compost. Get a proper size bin and empty it daily.
This touches on the last component to keeping waste and safety top of mind for your restaurant or store: your supply chain partners. From distributors to waste haulers, it is important to select trusted and thorough vendors who understand the needs and goals of the business in both safety and sustainability. Make sure to have ongoing conversations about operational needs and how to effectively move product without creating waste or sanitation hazards. It takes a lot of thought and planning, but with the right tools in place, food service and retail establishments can seamlessly eliminate waste and create a safer environment.
Hollis is the cofounder and president of Elytus. Reach him at 614-824-4985 x305.