Several solutions were the result of keen observation by interns from Kansas City’s Johnson County Community College, who worked with the restaurants to reduce waste. In one case, they noticed that a chocolate business was attached to a drafty garage. The garage contributed to high utility bills, so a solution was found by installing insulation and other weather-proofing to lower energy costs.
Observations at other restaurants included such things as loose doors on walk-in coolers and constantly leaking faucets. In one case, an oven was always left on because a malfunctioning pilot light made the oven difficult to re-light.
However, the interns’ primary attention is now food waste, and they have helped one area high school cafeteria become certified by the Green Restaurants Association. Scrap food at the high school is placed in a food pulper and is ultimately turned over to a composting company. Napkins are also biodegradable and no plastic utensils are used.
The cafeteria is now essentially trash-free, and there are no garbage cans because they are no longer needed.
Although most area restaurants are not convinced of the merits of sending their food waste to a composter, Trezo Mare Restaurant is an exception.
The restaurant has reduced the waste it once sent to landfill by 80 percent, and it recycles items such as glass bottles and cardboard containers. Used cooking oil is sent in 100 gallon batches to a company that turns it into biodiesel, and it uses biodegradable corn starch containers for takeout orders instead of plastic foam.
The efforts do involve additional costs, but according to the restaurant’s executive chef, the costs balance out when compared to what the restaurant once paid to send waste to the landfill.
Photo Credit: David Pulliam via The Kansas City Star