Food waste is the No. 1 material that goes into landfills across the country today, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And, until a few years ago, food waste wasn’t high on most restaurants’ priority list.
However, the National Restaurant Association reports that recycling has become business as usual for 65 percent of restaurant operators.
Steven Satterfield, executive chef and co-owner of Miller Union in Atlanta, says that working in the restaurant business has shown him the impact that can be made if food waste is diverted from landfills.
“From day one at Miller Union, composting has been a part of our business model. We found a company that removes the materials and takes it to a large-scale composting site outside of the city.”
Organic material such as fruit and vegetable scraps, fish and shells, meat and bones, eggshells, and coffee grinds are all composted.
The restaurant’s food-waste program also includes animal and vegetable fats that go to a bio-diesel processing and recycling plant. On an average week, the restaurant composts 2,000 pounds of organic matter.
The benefit, according to Chef Satterfield, “is knowing that you’re doing the right thing and not cutting corners to save money or contributing any unnecessary waste to a landfill.”
The restaurant trains all personnel on how to manage food waste using a system of easy to learn, color-coded waste receptacles. In addition, the staff is encouraged to inform patrons about the restaurant’s sustainable practices.
At Angus Barn, on a sprawling 50-acre site in Raleigh, North Carolina, owner Van Eure says, “Everything has a second use. If it is biodegradable, it goes into a dumpster that’s picked up by a company that uses the food waste for mulch.”
As a beefeater’s destination, Angus Barn always has leftover meat from the kitchen plus meat from patrons who aren’t members of the clean plate club and don’t walk out with a doggie bag.
With her propensity to avoid waste, Eure came up with a plan to donate the leftover meat to Carnivore Conservation, an organization that takes in abused wildlife including lions and tigers.