The term zero-waste has been thrown about frequently over the past few years, especially with Minneapolis’ endeavors to become a zero-waste city. As MN Certified Food Managers can tell you, there are many challenges to achieving zero waste in any facility. Biodegradable takeout containers are not as cost-effective as plastic or Styrofoam, adding food-waste recycling to your garbage service increases utility costs, some essential supplies are not available in environmentally friendly containers and there are some situations where there simply is not an effective solution or enough incentive to reasonably eliminate waste. This week, we would like to examine some solutions and dilemmas that exist when attempting to become a waste-free food production facility.
Zero-Waste and MN Certified Food Managers
From what we have heard during conversations with experienced MN Certified Food Managers there are a few key factors that need to be taken into consideration when coming up with a plan to minimize waste and reduce their outlet’s impact on the environment.
When you talk to a food service professional about the idea of a zero-waste facility, they will most likely respond with the question; How much is that going to cost me? If you are truly interested in reducing your waste by providing biodegradable or recyclable takeout containers, we suggest you shop around. Your current supplier may not provide environmentally friendly solutions at reasonable prices, but with the trends going away from plastic bags and Styrofoam containers, you are sure to find a supplier that caters towards zero-waste minded businesses.
Another complaint that we hear is that food recycling is not feasible due to space restrictions. Investing in a trash compactor can greatly reduce the amount of space you will need for your trash, recycling, and food waste.
Finally, we hear many business owners asking if there is anything in it for them if they go through the hassle of becoming a zero-waste outlet. As far as incentives go, we urge you to contact your local city and county offices or the company who provides your garbage and recycling pickup to see if there are any incentives for implementing waste-recycling programs at your facility. Incentives may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but by making a few phone calls, you may discover that forming a zero-waste action plan may work out to your benefit.
For an example of what some zero-waste communities are doing with their leftover food, check out this article about bio-gas production in Boulder, CO.
At Safe Food Training, we like to hear the community’s thoughts on the current trends in the industry. Do you think that a zero-waste food production is a possibility, or are some agencies setting their sights on an unattainable goal?