Processing Organics In The City – How One Hotel Did It

Environmental Leader’s Insider Knowledge Report featured insights from Great Forest on helping businesses deal with organics. The report shared lessons learned from corporate environmental, sustainability and energy decision-makers. Below is our mini case study (Read the entire report here).

Dealing with organics in an urban area can be difficult especially in a city like New York, where there are no industrial compost facilities and many logistical challenges.

But it can be done successfully and with great benefit, especially for establishments like restaurants and hotels that generate a large percentage of food waste.

We conducted a pilot organics program for a hotel with multiple food service areas located in a  multi‐use building in New York City. The program was rolled out in one of the hotel’s five main kitchen prep areas.

Challenge #1: Space

The first challenge we faced was the issue of space – there was not enough room in the building’s loading dock to store organics that had been separated out. Many buildings in New York City have this space issue, which makes processing organics challenging.

We overcame this by working with the hotel to find a place in their facility to store their organics bins until the daily pick-up.

Challenge #2: Changing Behavior

The program was rolled out in one of the hotel’s five main kitchen prep areas.

We first tried to use existing containers, designating select bins for organics and labeling them with appropriate stickers. However, even with training, kitchen staff continued to have difficulty identifying the correct bins to use in the busy prep area.

To solve this problem, we purchased green containers that stood out from the regular garbage bins. This worked successfully and staff began separating compostable materials and garbage with close to 100% accuracy.


With one kitchen processing organics, the hotel is diverting about 5% of its wet waste stream. When the program eventually expands to all five kitchens, the hotel is expected to divert up to 75% of its wet waste stream. This will potentially boost the hotel’s overall recycling ratio from the current 20% to about 80%.




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