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As I travel the country, I see more and more operators, universities, airports and hotels collecting recyclables and compostables. If you’re planning new stores – or renovating existing ones – think about how collection of recyclable or compostable items could be integrated into those layouts.

While you might not be required to collect recyclable or compostable items now, the national trend is clearly towards expanding collection of these items. San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Austin, TX and other markets have all increased their foodservice recycling and/or composting requirements. Major states such as New York and Illinois have passed legislation or regulations expanding the range of recyclable or compostable items that can be collected. Similar measures are in the discussion phase in many other states and municipalities.

So even if you’re not separately collecting recyclable or compostable items in your stores today, it might be worthwhile to think about how you would accomplish it, if necessary, and incorporate that thinking as you design store layouts. Doing some planning now about where you would put receptacles, how many of them you would need, any special bags required, how you would educate your staff and customers, and what signage would be necessary could save you some headaches – and added expense – down the road.

For example, composting bins require special compostable bag liners, and recycling bins often require a clear bag. If you are recycling paper cups, new recyclable paper bag liners are in development. Trash bins typically use a black liner.

For other insights, check with your waste haulers and other operators in cities such as San Francisco and Seattle who have already implemented collection of recyclables and compostables. I find people are more than willing to share their experiences and tips for operating more sustainably. The more we collaborate and share ideas, the higher the likelihood that all our practices and efforts will yield positive environmental benefits.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Shelly Pintabona
    We design many fast casual restaurants, and there certainly is a growing emphasis on recycling and composting. We recently heard of an interesting product, the Orca Green Composting Machine, it can compost up to 400 pounds a day of food waste and compostable packaging, this could be a useful solution for fast casual operators to examine further.
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Latest posts by Kim Frankovich
Kim Frankovich
Kim Frankovich is VP of sustainability at Solo Cup Company, and is responsible for addressing sustainability in Solo’s operations, products and partnerships.
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