Waste Diversion for Restaurants, Caterers & Other Food Vendors
Here in Eagle County, waste can be diverted from our landfill in multiple ways: By being recycled and composted, our food, plastic, paper and other waste is avoiding a lifetime of oxygen-less compaction in our landfill. Some of our waste goes to a worm bin in our garage to feed backyard vegetables, some is contributed to a collective diversion effort at work. Other more specific types of waste, such as clamshells, are separated from single stream recycling to be taken to one of our Eagle County drop sites for recycling. Due to bounteous and unique waste diversion opportunities offered to Eagle County residents, businesses and visitors, our county’s waste diversion rate is better than the state of Colorado’s average, and is within 12% of the top five states with the highest diversion rates. Our Actively Green businesses do an even more impressive job, with a 46% waste diversion rate.
As wonderful as Eagle County residents, businesses and visitors are at diverting waste, there is still room for improvement! Since the Actively Green Program has not certified many restaurants, the Actively Green Business Training and Certification Program will host a Waste Diversion Workshop tomorrow!
Tip #1: Donating Before Decomposing.
The best way to divert food waste is not to compost it, but to donate it to hungry people. There are ways for businesses such as grocery stores and restaurants to legally donate food within the guidelines of federal regulations. Lucky for Eagle County businesses, The Community Market will collect this food to be redistributed to about 800 hungry community members each week. Hear from Rita Mary Hennigan, The Community Market’s Partner Relations & Sustainability Coordinator, at our Workshop on Wednesday about the legalities surrounding food donations.
Tip #2: Choose from Compost Options Galore!
The second best option to divert waste in Eagle County is to compost food waste and other organics. If keeping worms alive in your backyard is not for you, there are several options for sending that compost away. The most sustainable of those options is to send this waste away with Vail Honeywagon, whose compost facility is located right here in the Eagle Valley. Other options that will take compostable waste to Denver County and Pitkin County, respectively, include Waste Management, Alpine Waste and EverGreen Zero Waste. Discussing these options during the workshop is Nina Waysdorf, Sustainability Programs Coordinator for Zero Waste with Walking Mountains, and Shawn Bruckman, Compost Operations Manager with Vail Honeywagon.
Tip #3: Skip the Rinse, but Keep Recycling.
Should this workshop not be suitable for you, one tip that will improve your waste diversion and help you conserve water is to skip the rinse before placing your recyclables in the recycling bin or dumpster. All recyclables, no matter the waste hauling company, are processed through a rinsing stage once they arrive at the corresponding Material Recovery Facility (MRF). Recyclables are perfectly cleaned by a fast and efficient machine before they move to the next stage. This means all our residential, commercial and visiting recyclers in Eagle County can skip this step and place all their empty – but dirty – recyclables into the bin, sans rinse.
Kate Manzer is the Actively Green Coordinator at Walking Mountains Sustainability. For more information on the Actively Green program, contact Kate at KateM@walkingmountains.org
IF YOU GO
What: Waste Diversion Workshop for Restaurants and Food Vendors
When: Wednesday, March 11, 2:30-4:30 p.m.
Where: Walking Mountains Science Center’s Borgen Precourt Center for Sustainability, Avon
More information: Visit walkingmountains.org/agtrainings or call 720-317-5558.