Food Waste + Organics

Why collect food waste and organics?

Nearly 400,000 tons of waste are generated from businesses in Ramsey and Washington counties, and almost 30% of that waste is food and food-soiled paper. By collecting food waste, restaurants, grocery stores, wholesale food distributors and commercial kitchens can put that food to better use and keep food waste out of the trash. Food waste in the trash system releases methane gas which is a major contributor to global warming. Reducing our food waste is one of the easiest ways we as consumers can make an impact.

Collecting food waste also allows businesses, organizations and schools to expand their waste diversion efforts, demonstrate to customers their environmental values, and reduce their County Environmental Charge (CEC). 

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 25% to 40% of food grown, processed and transported in the United States will never be consumed.

Food donation, or food-to-people, is a great way to give back to the community. When your business has high-quality, surplus food that would otherwise go to waste, it can be donated to local food shelves instead. Second Harvest Heartland, a Minnesota nonprofit, salvages enough food to provide over 77,000 meals a year to food shelters.

Your BizRecycling Recycling Expert can connect you to local food shelves to donate your excess edible food.

Your company is not liable for the product once it has been donated. 

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (pdf) was created to encourage the donation of food and grocery products to 501(c)3 certified nonprofit organizations. Under this Act, as long as the donor hasn’t acted with negligence or intentional misconduct, the company is not liable for damage incurred as a result of illness.

The National Restaurant Association’s Conserve Program has a strong national program to assist businesses in their recycling and food waste reduction efforts. 

Food-to-hogs programs are an easy way for restaurants to recycle food waste. In this process, all food and drink waste can be collected without being sorted. For example, Barthold Farms in St. Francis, Minnesota picks up food scraps on a weekly basis. Each barrel of organics typically costs about $5 to pick up, and the service is not taxed. There are many restaurants and schools in the East Metro already doing this.

  • Pro 
    • Easy for restaurant and school staff
    • Allows for food and drink collection 
    • Increases customer loyalty
    • Diverts waste from landfills
    • Lowers methane emissions by reducing waste
    • Yields tax savings for businesses
    • Builds employee morale
  • Con 
    • Does not include coffee grounds and filters, paper towels, or food stained paper such as napkins

Here is a list of businesses your business can partner with to coordinate food scrap collection. Using special collection vehicles that cook the food scraps, they eliminate pathogens before the scraps are fed to their hogs.

With source separated organics management (SSOM), your organic waste is picked up by a hauler, typically the same hauler who collects your trash and recycling, and is taken to a commercial compost site. The organics waste is then processed into compost. 

With a SSOM system, all food waste, fat, bones, paper towels, and food stained paper can be collected in one bin. This means that food scraps can be recycled along with paper towels, soiled paper napkins, coffee grounds and filters, and BPI certified compostable plates, containers and utensils. Although food does not need to be sorted from paper, liquids cannot be combined with organics recycling. 

  • Pro  
    • Easy for restaurant staff
    • Allows for food and paper collection
    • Includes bones, shells, meat and fat
    • Potential cost saving
    • Easy to promote to customers
  • Con
    • Does not include liquid waste, such as beverages

Take the next step!

Contact us to schedule a free basic site visit with a Recycling Expert. Learn which organics recycling program is right for your business. Your Recycling Expert can help you apply for up to $10,000 to offset the costs of improving or starting an organics collection system.