Organics Recycling — Give Back to Nature

Alisa Reckinger
Hennepin County

Whether at a school, church, or business, establishing an organics recycling program is a great way to reduce the amount of trash disposed of by your organization and reinvigorate your recycling program. Organics include all food waste and non-recyclable or food-soiled paper products and can make up approximately 25 percent of what we throw away.

Take the following steps when setting up an organics program:

  • Meet with key staff who will be involved with the program. Consider people from all levels of your organization, including custodians and building maintenance, top-level management, food service, and so forth.
  • Establish a budget and determine what resources you will need. Organics programs usually require an initial investment for setup and promotion of the program, but they can pay for themselves by reducing your garbage disposal fees.
  • Find a hauler that offers organics recycling (refer to the resources below).
  • Choose areas where organics will be collected. To make organics collection effective, evaluate where organic waste is generated in your organization, e.g., kitchens, dining areas, bathrooms, etc.
  • Evaluate how your organization generates garbage, recycling and organic waste, and think about how you can reduce the amount of garbage generated. At large events and at regular meals or meetings, look for ways to avoid disposables and/or make sure that food is served in compostable or recyclable containers.
  • Set goals in your organization for how much organic waste you will collect and how much trash you will reduce.
  • Develop educational and promotional materials. Communicate how the program will work and what goals your organization has set. Let people know what they can do to help you achieve your goals.
  • Obtain and place collection containers. Make containers available in kitchens, cafeterias and other locations where organic waste is generated. Set up waste stations with containers for recycling, organic waste and trash. Make sure all containers — for trash, recycling and organics — are clearly labeled.
  • Spend some time educating people about the organics program. During events or meals, monitor waste containers to help people figure out in which container their waste belongs. Monitors should educate and encourage sorting while offering minimal assistance so that the organic program can eventually operate with little or no supervision.
  • Evaluate your program. How much organics have you collected? Have you met your goals?
  • Publicize and celebrate your successes.

Another option for recycling organics is to compost at your facility. You could involve members in constructing and maintaining compost bins, and the finished compost could be used on landscaping projects around your facility.

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