Dan Matsch

Dan Matsch

Dan Matsch

Speaker | Eco-Cycle

Boulder, CO | (303) 961-2683 | dan@ecocycle.org

USCC Member

Dan has worked in recycling, composting, and organic farming since 1982. His Zero Waste focus looks to marry these interests to maintain the highest value of our resources through creating local circular economies, building healthy soil, and sequestering carbon. Dan is a board member of Colorado’s USCC state chapter and directs Eco-Cycle’s compost department and Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM). Eco-Cycle is a 43 year old non-profit zero waste company that provides recyclables processing and commercial food waste collections for Boulder County, Colorado, and Zero Waste planning advice for the world.

Presentation Title: Capture More Food Waste and Reduce Contamination at Food Establishments: Developing Best Practices for Front-Of-House Collection

co-authors: David Fridland and Dale Ekart

Session: Contamination Removal and Reduction

Time: Wednesday, January 30, 8:45 AM – 10:15 AM

Presentation Summary: Communities increasingly want their composting efforts to be highly visible across the community and are rolling out universal recycling, composting and trash containers at all homes, businesses and public places. For many cities, this means expanding compost collection to include food scraps and compostable packaging from customers at the front-of-house (FOH) at food service establishments. Composters have traditionally focused on collecting materials from staff kitchens, or back-of-house, because they offer higher volumes of food waste, less packaging and lower contamination.

As part of its Universal Zero Waste Ordinance, Boulder, Colorado required all businesses to provide both BOH and FOH composting service. There was much concern about the quality and the quantity of compost at FOH, and there was little data available to suggest how to make these programs successful.

Local non-profit organization, Eco-Cycle, with support from Boulder-based Eco-Products,conducted research to quantify how much additional food can be captured from diners through front-of-house composting and to identify the collection systems and type of packaging that increased diversion and reduced contamination. Waste audits were conducted at 18 businesses across five categories, including full-service restaurants, quick serve restaurants, coffee shops, institutional cafeterias and grocery store delis. Changes to the collection system were made at ten locations and follow-up waste audits identified whether or not these changes improve diversion rates, material contamination and the amount of food waste captured.

The results demonstrate that food establishments of all types can achieve very high diversion rates. Bin locations and signage, as well as how many different types of packaging was used at each business, were prime factors in determining a location’s success.

The research also suggests that cities can most effectively manage their outreach to food service establishments by prioritizing certain sectors based on their community goals. Some sectors offer a greater opportunity to capture more food waste while others offer a greater opportunity to reduce contamination in composting and recycling programs.

This research represents a work in process and the authors will share our methodology in the hope that it spurs other communities to conduct similar research and improve upon these findings.