Everything You Need to Know About Back-of-House Restaurant Waste and Recycling

September 14, 2021

If you’ve never owned or worked in a restaurant before, you might be surprised at just how many logistical items restaurant owners and managers need to keep track of that have nothing to do with food or customer service.

The whole back-of-house operation may be unglamorous, but it contains many necessary tasks that keep the restaurant operational. This includes dealing with restaurant waste and recycling.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the issues management must confront with each of these tasks.

Restaurant waste management

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), solid waste is any kind of garbage or refuse or sludge that is considered abandoned or inherently waste-like.

Restaurants must, for example, be aware of the proper disposal method for used grease and must have a plan in place for dealing with all trash (food waste and otherwise) generated in a kitchen and restaurant. They will generally have a contract with a trash-hauling company, but there are other tasks business owners can engage in to better manage waste.

Reducing solid waste is one method businesses can employ to better manage their waste issues. Restaurant owners should have a general idea of how much waste they generate on a regular basis. Trash haulers recommend weighing the trash at your facility the day before a pickup to get a sense of how much solid waste you create.

There are a variety of steps restaurants can take to reduce solid waste, including using storage containers that can be reused, implementing tracking systems for inventory, avoiding over-purchasing, using all product by varying the menu, serving fountain or draft beverages, using permanent utensils, not using Styrofoam, purchasing cleaning supplies in bulk, using a trash compactor, investing in kitchen equipment maintenance and using refillable condiment dispensers.

There are also opportunities for restaurants to make better use of recycling initiatives. Adding a recycling plan to waste disposal at a restaurant significantly reduces trash-removal bills and helps restaurants stay in compliance with local and national ordinances and regulations. Work with your trash-hauling company to determine what forms of recycling it can and cannot accommodate. You should at least be able to recycle cardboard, paper products, aluminum, some steel, certain types of plastics, wood and printer cartridges, and there are also methods of dealing with organic food waste.

How does recycling cooking oil work?

The recycling of cooking oil is a process restaurant owners also need to consider. Restaurant kitchens generate a lot of excess cooking oil and grease. There are grease-recycling services that specialize in taking this waste and recycling it for use in other applications.

These services come in and take that excess grease to process and reuse in other settings. It is your responsibility to safely collect and remove that grease using the proper equipment and protocols.

Interested in learning more about the process of collecting and recycling cooking oil and how it can benefit your restaurant? Get in touch with the team at Safeway Used Oil and Grease with any questions you have.

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