5 Restaurant Composting Tips for Beginners

Sustainability continues to be a major topic of discussion in most industries. According to Pew Research, two-thirds of adults in the U.S. think we should be doing more to care for the environment and eliminate waste. The restaurant industry has struggled with this harsh reality for decades. In fact, restaurants are some of the largest contributors to food waste due to FDA regulations against reusing of food items.

Until now.

Restaurants have been embracing composting as a solution to the longstanding food waste problem in the industry. Composting allows restaurants to divert up to 95% of their food waste into something that helps the environment. In addition, many popular and successful restaurants are doing more than that—they’re growing their own gardens and cooking seasonal foods to minimize waste altogether. As you may not know, the longer food spends in storage and transit, the higher the chance of it spoiling and becoming waste.

What is Composting?

Compost can be defined as “a mixture of various decaying organic substances, such as dead leaves or food, used for fertilizing soil.” Composting is the process of making compost. The process of composting allows organic material waste (food) to be broken down by microorganisms in the presence of oxygen to a point where it can be used as fertilizer for future growth. It takes time and is an all-natural process.

5 Restaurant Composting Tips for Beginners

Let’s move into a few tips to help your restaurant reduce food waste and save money.

1. Consider Using a Commercial Outdoor Compost Bin
If your restaurant has outdoor space to devote to composting, this may be your best option. Typically, composting should take place away from other outdoor areas where patrons may gather or eat. Behind the restaurant or in an alley may be good options.

Best of Machinery has a great guide to help you choose an outdoor compost bin.

2. Pay Attention to What Can and Can’t Be Composted
It’s important to note that not all food waste can be composted/recycled. Pay special attention to what cannot be composted because one mistake can ruin the delicate ecosystem needed to properly break down waste.

Can Be Composted                        

Fruit and vegetable scraps
Coffee grounds & filters
Biodegradable paper napkins
Yard clippings & plants

Cannot Be Composted

Diseased plants
Meat and bones
Oil or fat – specifically from a fryer
Toxic materials

3. Educate and Train Staff on Composting Procedures
Convincing your staff to buy into your composting program will drastically improve adherence and it being done correctly. Explain to them that this is a major step to reducing harm to the environment. Commercial kitchens tend to get extremely busy and hectic – it is not uncommon for the overall good to get lost in the shuffle. Consider rolling out a training program that can help protect the investment you’ve made into composting by providing staff with the necessary education on food waste.

4. Introduce Eco-Friendly Materials into the Restaurant
Using eco-friendly recyclable materials will further the effectiveness of your composting program. Consider adding and using the following in your restaurant:

  • Biodegradable plates
  • Compostable takeout containers
  • Compostable trash can liners

5. Announce Your Composting Efforts to the Public
Implementing a composting program in your restaurant is something to be proud of and it can bring excellent PR opportunities to you. Consider making signs in the restaurant announcing your efforts to bring sustainability into your business model. Some restaurants opt for creating a new “compost only” bin next to the trashcan where customers can contribute to the process.

Protecting Your Livelihood

Your restaurant is your livelihood, and it’s our job to do all we can to help you protect it. By choosing Society, you’re not only getting one of the most comprehensive insurance plans for your business, but a partner dedicated to your company’s continued success.

Contact your local Society agent to discuss coverage options for your restaurant or hospitality business.


As a mutual insurance company, we operate and exist for the benefit of our policyholders. For more than 100 years, Society has been helping businesses overcome the unexpected with comprehensive coverage packages and outstanding claims handling, underwriting and risk management.

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