Zero Waste Operators

Anywhere food is sold – from a truck, cafeteria, a gourmet restaurant, or a booth inside a stadium – there is an opportunity to divert food scraps and foodservice packaging from landfills. We not only are striving to increase local infrastructure, we also are in the field providing sustainability consulting, training, and marketing support to the foodservice operators with whom we partner. We can only fulfill our mission if more customers adopt Zero Waste practices.

In 2017, we invested in taking this service to the next level. We began hiring operator specialists whose responsibilities include getting our operator customers’ composting programs up and running. Their work entails:

  • Assessing the feasibility of composting food scraps and our packaging near customer operations.
  • Building relationships with haulers and composters and connecting our customers to them.
  • Researching legislation with which our customers must comply. Currently, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, California, New York, Massachusetts, and various municipalities and counties have laws related to food waste or organics recycling.
  • Providing training, signage, and other general support.
  • Helping operators control the materials sent to the composting facility to allay contamination fears.

Our goal for 2017 was to help nine foodservice operators implement new front-of-house waste diversion programs that include a composting component. We landed on nine because we have nine sales regions. We are happy to say that we helped 11 operators launch composting programs in seven of our nine regions. While we ideally would have had a success story in each region, limitations in composting infrastructure create significant challenges. It’s hard to start a composting program when there is not yet a composter willing to accept your materials! Nonetheless, we are proud of the progress that we made, and the dialog and action this generated throughout our sales organization. It also underscored the importance of our work to expand commercial composting access for packaging. For 2018, we are aiming for a very similar goal (nine operator conversions regardless of sales region) and are optimistic that the number of operators who successfully put front-of-house composting programs in place will only accelerate.

We also are continuing to build relationships with the many foodservice management companies and distributors that we work with so we can implement a Zero Waste program with one of our great partner organizations in the coming years.

During the year, we began work on a database that will help to answer a few questions about foodservice operators in large, key accounts that use our products. We began collecting data on:

  1. Which of our customers are in an area that mandates composting or recycling legislatively.
  2. Which customers have access to a commercial composter that accepts compostable foodservice packaging.

This information will help us more efficiently and effectively customize our support based on our customers’ unique needs. We anticipate that the combination of our new operator specialists and this powerful database will lead to remarkable results in 2018.

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