San Franciscan restaurants are participating in a city-wide compost collection program that has collected over 105,000 tons of food scraps and yard trimmings in a single year. All that waste used to end up in the landfill, where compostable waste makes up a full third of everything in the dump. The all natural fertilizer created from composting all those restaurant food scraps has become so popular with nearby farmers and vintners that the program regularly sells out in the spring, when demand is highest for fertilizer.
Because the compost is so rich in organic matter, many food growers have seen significant increases in crop production and yield, which more than justifies the increased cost of using the San Francisco compost. Even better, all natural compost is much more carbon neutral than petroleum based fertilizers, with the added benefit of relieving pressure on local landfills.
The organic crops produced as a result of the compost program are then sold back to many of the restaurants that contribute in the first place, completing a cycle of sustainability that has become a model for other cities across the country looking to institute their own programs.
The biggest hurdle for most cities is food scrap collection and education. Separating food waste properly requires attention to detail and some training to avoid mixing contaminants into the food scraps to be composted. San Francisco’s program has been particularly successful because the majority of people participating are educated about what can and cannot be composted.
Check with your local government to see if a composting program exists near you. Reducing food waste can help you save on trash hauling fees, but more importantly, it helps your restaurant’s green credibility, and that makes for loyal and happy customers.