Chefs or Diners – Who Holds The Key to Composting Success?

Here’s a quick case study of two companies in the same building that tried addressing their organics through composting. Only one of them was successful. Why? Let’s take a look.

A large hospitality company – we will call them Company A – launched their program in the staff cafeteria but ran into problems right from the start. Only a small amount of food waste was collected, and almost none was acceptable for composting because of cross contamination. The program was scrapped after only a few months.

Company B’s program was a great success.  One of the main differences is how, or specifically where, they launched their effort.

While Company A started their program in the front-of-the-house, targeting diners, Company B rolled out their program in the back-of-the-house. They started their efforts with chefs and other kitchen staff.

“The lesson to be learned is that successful composting usually starts in the kitchen,” explains Anna Dengler, Great Forest’s senior sustainability advisor, who helped develop and install Company B’s composting program.

“Starting at the frontline, where the food is prepared, you can focus your training on the chefs and other back-of-the-house staff to get the program running smoothly before attempting to expand it. If you begin in the front-of-the-house, you will need to educate everyone who eats in the cafeteria. This is a much larger and potentially changing pool of people you have to reach.”

With the success of Company B‘s program, Great Forest is now helping Company A reintroduce their composting program. We have been holding training sessions with their kitchen staff, and also working to address concerns about space constraints in the food prep area.

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