The Benefits of Recycling in the Commercial Kitchen


To adequately feed the masses on a day-to-day basis, restaurants tend to serve large portions to satisfy their crafty diners. While full plates are a comforting sight to any table, with generous helpings comes a considerable amount of waste. And with waste come more operating costs, whether in the form of trash handling fees or uneaten and spoiled food.

But with a recycling program, lowering these fees or saying goodbye to them altogether is a reality every restaurant can subscribe to—and the benefits don’t end there.

The Advantages of Recycling

Recycling is Good for Business

Customers tend to take notice when a restaurants converges their efforts toward environmental sustainability. In fact, studies have shown 79% of diners prefer dining an eco-friendly restaurant over one that isn’t taking steps to better the environment. Not only will recycling improve your public image, but it can increase customer loyalty and spur customer involvement as well.

Cheaper Trash Fees

The fewer times the trash truck swings by to empty your dumpster, the less you will have to pay for trash pickup.

Cash Incentives for Participation

Some local governments offer monetary assistance for restaurants who implement recycling programs. Also, some trash companies have recycle based service plans with rewards incentives that can cost $20 to $50 less per ton than conventional garbage pickup.

Reduced Purchasing Cost

Saving money and reducing waste could be as simple as investing in a few reusable items. Restaurants with an effective waste management system might keep cloth cleaning rags and reusable flatware in stock.

Avoid Extra Costs

Some U.S. cities, like Fort Collins, Colorado, banned recyclable materials like newspaper and cardboard from entering their landfills. In fact, these municipalities could charge an extra disposal fee for those that leave recyclables in their landfills.

About Landfills

The dump. The tip. Or, if you hail from Scotland, the midden. Regardless of what you call a landfill, these giant garbage tombs store and hide trash, keeping garbage in and air and moisture out. In these conditions, garbage can take decades or even centuries to fully breakdown and decompose. From an environmental standpoint, making a point of recycling means you’re benefiting your restaurant and the world around you.

Recyclable Materials

Day in and day out, the restaurant industry uses countless items that never make it to to the recycling bin. However, just being aware of what pieces can be reused or reprocessed is the start to a more sustainable kitchen.


  • If it’s made of aluminum, it can be made of recycled aluminum.
  • Recycling one ton of aluminum cans saves the energy equivalent of 1,665 gallons of gasoline.

Food Waste

  • As much as 70% of all restaurant waste is food waste.
  • Food waste can be composted to create a nutrient rich soil additive.
  • Farms, greenhouses and home gardens can benefit from composted food waste.


  • Old cardboard boxes can be donated to charities for reuse or sent to a recycling facility to make new cardboard and other paper products.
  • Recycling one ton of cardboard saves 460 gallons of oil.


  • Glass can be recycled an infinite number of times.
  • Anything made of glass can be recycled into new glass products.
  • Recycling a single glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 100 watt light bulb for four hours.


  • All non-glossy paper can be recycled into several products including newspaper, bathroom tissue and kitty litter.
  • Every ton of paper recycled saves energy equivalent to 185 gallons of gasoline.


  • Recycled plastic can be used to create several products ranging from mop heads to t-shirts.
  • Five two-liter recycled bottles can produce enough insulation for a men’s ski jacket.


  • Recycled steel can be made into steel cans, building supplies and tools.
  • Steel recycling saves enough energy in one year to power 18 million homes for that entire year.

Used Fryer Oil

  • Fryer oil can be turned into biodiesel, a popular alternative fuel.
  • Rather than paying to have your oil taken away, biodiesel companies are actually paying restaurants for this resource.

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