A new survey shows that while many restaurants have started some type of recycling program for paper and cardboard, organics recycling is still lagging.
Up to 90% of organic restaurant waste is recyclable, but only 28% of the nation’s restaurateurs operate any type of organics recycling program, according to a new survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association.
The study, which was conducted in partnership with Georgia-Pacific Professional, found that of the 500 restaurants surveyed, just 13% participate in a composting program.
The survey does, however, point to an improvement in food waste recycling over a 2009 EPA study. That survey estimated that only about 2.5% of food waste scraps were recovered for recycling.
One of the biggest deficits the National Restaurant Association survey found was that while 85% of the restaurants recycled paper and plastic in the kitchen and office areas, only 43% made programs available for recycling in customer areas.
By contrast, 60% of consumers stated that patronizing a restaurant that recycles was a top priority for them, and 85% said they would sort recyclables in fast food restaurants if those sites provide recycling bins.
However, a startling 63% of restaurant owners surveyed reported that they didn’t think recycling would benefit their bottom-line, even though almost 72% of those surveyed did report using items made from recycled material such as bags, paper products and food containers.
While overall restaurant recycling statistics are anemic, the fact that restaurant owners are beginning to think about traditional as well as food scrap recycling is a giant step forward. The National Restaurant Association survey also reported that 17% of those asked said they plan to start an organics recycling program next year––and that’s encouraging.