The Circle of Life: Food Composting
Hotels produce a large amount of food waste each day that eventually adds up and greatly contributes to high disposal costs. Diverting this food waste for composting is a powerful strategy that can result in significant savings in trash disposal costs – all while enhancing operational sustainability of hotels. The key is to develop a plan for collecting food waste that will work for your hotel and staff, but let’s start at the beginning.
What is Composting?
Composting is often referred to as nature’s way of recycling. The food composting process includes the breakdown of organic food waste into valuable substances by various micro-organisms. Modern composting can be more advanced and include more steps, such as inputting water, air and carbon-rich resources.
Importance and Benefits of Food Composting
A successful composting program will benefit a hotel’s operational sustainability and the environment, from a decreased need for landfill space to improved soil fertility. Taking it one step further, hotels might consider not only initiating a composting system, but also doing the composting onsite. Consider this example from the InterContinental New York Barclay :
An important benefit to composting at the hotel is that the onsite machine negates a daily pick-up from a garbage truck, which would normally have to travel 300 miles to a composting facility or 600 miles to a landfill. Not only is the hotel able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the amount of waste that gets transported to a landfill, but also it indirectly reduces the amount of methane gas being produced from the landfill. Methane gas is considered to be 20 times more harmful than CO2 gas emissions.
Bravo to hotels like the InterContinental New York Barclay who already compost food waste. If you’re considering looking into adopting a food composting system for your hotel, here are some things to consider.
How to Get Started
- Start with conducting a waste assessment to figure out if conventional composting or a commercial composting facility is more appropriate for your hotel. TIP: Don’t forget to assure local codes allow on-site composting or a commercial composting facility may be needed. Bigger hotels should consider an on-site central compost facility that can handle larger quantities.
- Revamp signage to include clearly-labeled or color-coded containers to help with composting efforts.
- Introduce and discuss food composting systems with hotel restaurant staff. Create a ‘Green Team’ to encourage other staff members to create an all-around hotel composting effort. Properly train all related personnel in the handling and operation of composting, as well as the overall benefits.
- Talk to trash handlers to see if they have any options for organic waste pickup.
- Local growers, landscapers and farmers often have their own composting in place and most are willing to accept additional organic material.
- Another way to get involved in the community is to split the costs with other interested hotels or restaurants. A community diverting waste from the landfill is a beautiful thing!
- Join community composting organizations to help stay current with issues, gain support and raise awareness of your efforts. TIP: Publicly pledging composting commitments will help hoteliers gain positive press as community leaders in the commercial sector.
The above recommendations will help hoteliers correctly adopt food composting systems. Remember that food waste is not worthless because hotels can make use of it! Composting food waste will help our environment perform the cycle of life.