Unlike the tips previously offered in this series, recycling probably won’t save your restaurant or commercial kitchen money. And recycling will probably add work to your schedule and headaches to your day.
So why recycle? Well, there are a few very compelling reasons, and not all of them altruistic, for introducing a recycling program:
Customers love it. You’ve been reading other Going Green Tips and have started implementing strategies that boost energy efficiency in your restaurant and allow you to advertise to customers that you’re a green restaurant. Customer loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising are up. Things are going great.
That will change fast if you don’t recycle. To your customers, this is the most fundamental green practice, and if they don’t see a blue bin next to the trash bin, you’re going to lose a lot more credibility than you think. On the other hand, if you not only offer recycling in the front of the house (where not much can be recycled anyway) but also advertise your back of house recycling program, that gives you a legitimacy that helps with your overall green restaurant marketing strategy.
A recycling program puts you ahead of the curve. More and more state and local laws are requiring restaurants and commercial kitchens to implement a recycling program. So why not stay ahead of the curve? You’ll probably end up having a recycling program anyway, so why not get in the swing of things now and turn it into part of your marketing strategy?
Recycling also helps you get a Green Restaurant Certification from the Green Restaurant Association. You may want to consider pursuing a full certification from the GRA as part of your commitment to building a sustainable green business.
Recycling does, in fact, feel good. There’s not much money in it, but hopefully money isn’t the only thing you care about. Recycling makes your customers feel good, and it should make you feel good too. Reducing waste through recycling is a key element to achieving sustainability in our economy, and your participation makes a difference, no matter if you run a small mom-and-pop restaurant or a huge commercial kitchen.
More recycling tips:
Buy post-consumer products whenever possible. Post-consumer means the item was made entirely or partly from recycled materials. Buying these products creates more demand in the recycled materials market, which encourages more people and businesses to recycle. You’ll also be conserving natural resources like timber by purchasing post-consumer products.
Employ reusable items whenever possible. This applies mostly to the front of the house. You can significantly reduce waste by introducing reusable napkins, dinner and small wares, glasses, and tablecloths. The slightly raised cost of washing these items is usually offset by reduced waste removal costs, and as waste removal costs rise, as they are sure to do, your costs stay the same.
Recycle kitchen oil as well. Recycling used frying and vegetable oil is now easier than ever since the advent of biodiesel and other oil recycling technologies. Locate a local company that processes used oil and they will provide disposal bins and may even pay you to give them your used oil.
You can also make oil last longer by using an fryer oil filter, which pumps the oil out of your fryer, passes it through a filter to clean it of debris, and then deposits it back in the fryer. This machine will pay for itself with the savings you realize on buying fryer oil.