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U.S. Restaurants Need To Improve Recycling Rates

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.

About Sebrina Zerkus Smith

Professional writer, foodie. Lupus survivor. Loves pugs, wine, days at the beach and good movies. Takes recycling seriously, but not much else. Sebrina Zerkus Smith is a Southern Gal that has been scratching the writer’s itch for nearly 30 years. Her career began in Washington, D.C., in 1987, fresh out of collage and full of ideals. While plying her trade by day on congressional reps and senators, at night she burned the candle writing features for local newspapers and national magazines. She quickly realized that her southern upbringing gave her a unique and humorous voice that resonated with her readers. Eventually, she moved to Los Angeles where she pursued her dream of becoming a novelist and screenwriter. She paid her bills by working as a freelance writer for major marketing projects from studios such as CBS, NBC and Disney. Realizing that the future of writing lay with the internet, she was bitten by the blogging bug back in the 90’s, back before it was even called “blogging.” Then it was still just writing and trying to make a living. Through those early blogging years, Sebrina found passion and purpose. Over the past 10 years she has written articles for clients such as LightCues.com, MatterMore.com, Greenopolis, MacAddict, Yahoo, CNN and more. Today, Sebrina writes about a variety of topics including the Southern Experience, sustainability, clean water, food, gardening, sleep and her obsession with pugs. She is a regular paid contributor to WildOats.com as well as other entities. She now lives in Houston with her husband Jeff and their pug Newton. She hopes one day to complete her opus, Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed.


3 thoughts on “U.S. Restaurants Need To Improve Recycling Rates

  1. Food wastes are something I’d eagerly recycle – trimmings from salad bars would be relished by the chickens! I’ve not found any restaurants who “can” (or will – they cite policies) collect into buckets, citing liability issues. I’d rather those ‘wasted’ salads be put to use – but it’s tough to find places that will.

    Posted by SlowMoneyFarm | September 15, 2011, 2:08 am
  2. There are lots of restaurant opens in United states and U.S restaurants needs to improve recycling rates,I think the rate of recycling depend on the management of waste material.Well here you share a valuable information of U.S literacy.

    Posted by Recycling organic waste | January 23, 2012, 8:36 am


  1. Pingback: U.S. Restaurants Need To Improve Recycling Rates « mattermore - September 14, 2011

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