PART 1 of 2 : A Guide to Easy Composting for Catering Businesses

PART 1 of 2 : A Guide to Easy Composting for Catering Businesses

June 07, 2023

In the catering industry, waste management can become a logistic headache. While some event spaces take care of the waste management, often the caterer is responsible for figuring out what to do with all of the waste. Composting is not only an eco-friendly solution, but it can simplify your waste management logistics. Food waste is already compostable, so the next step to creating a more sustainable catering business is to adapt compostable dinnerware and flatware.

With customers demanding more eco-friendly options than ever, advertising your composting efforts can position your business as environmentally responsible, giving you an edge with customers. And in the grand scheme of things, composting reduces your carbon footprint, helping you contribute to a cleaner environment for the future.

With all of the benefits, composting seems like a no-brainer, yet misinformation about composting for catering holds many small businesses back. Read on to learn about how composting for catering can be easy, and why it’s important to choose the right products for composting. 

What is composting and why is it important

Composting is a process where organic materials break down to create soil “amendments.” A soil amendment is like a superfood for soil, and helps plants grow. While all organic matter breaks down eventually, it’s only composting when the perfect mix of organic matter meets an ideal environment that leads to fast decomposition. The result is called compost — the perfect pH and salinity that plants crave in order to thrive.

It’s kind of like magic. Composting is the most sustainable waste management process because it literally creates new life out of waste. Unlike recycling, which requires resources like heat, water, and electricity to produce, composting is a natural process that requires relatively little intervention.

An important caveat is that compost should only go with compost. Throwing out compostable materials in the regular trash means that they end up in a landfill. While you may think that’s better than plastic ending up in landfills, the problem is that when organic (i.e. compostable) materials break down, they produce methane — a major greenhouse gas. Therefore, it’s important when using compostable materials to actually compost them.

So what can and cannot be composted? All food scraps, paper goods, and yard trimmings can be thrown in the compost. When you’re composting at home, you’ll want to avoid composting high-acid foods — like citrus fruit — and animal bones. These items can negatively affect the composition of compost.

The good news is that commercial composting, which is generally used in composting for catering purposes, is able to tolerate higher amounts of bones and high-acid foods. If you’re using a commercial composting program, you won’t have to worry about completely cutting out these ingredients, but it is important to try and reduce the amount that is thrown in the compost.

Come back for part 2 where we explore the difference between biodegradable and certified compostable. There is a difference! 

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