I worked in the restaurant industry for six and a half years. I started working my way through front-of-house positions like server, quality assurance, bartender, and trainer. I took on the role of my restaurant’s training captain. Then I oversaw the training of seven restaurants. Next I managed the service staff. I managed the bar. Eventually I became the kitchen manager.
So why, with a successful career path unfolding in the restaurant industry, did I get the desire to buy a garbage truck and start my own “garbage” company called Food FWD?
It all began with a question. How can I make my restaurant more environmentally friendly? I met with another local restaurateur, known in the local restaurant community as a leader in green restaurants to see what he was doing that I wasn’t. There were plenty of small things I could do to reduce my restaurant’s environmental impact:
- Switch incandescent lightbulbs for fluorescent or LED lights
- Turn off lights or have them set to automatically turn off when no one is in the room
- Install low-flow water faucets and nozzles
- Install automatic water faucets
- Not print emails
- Keep files and logs digitally
These were great to do he said, but paled in comparison to the impact of the waste we produced every day.
The biggest positive impact my restaurant could have on the environment was to reduce or eliminate our two largest waste streams:
- Used cooking oil
The cooking oil was easy. We contracted with a company to buy our used cooking oil to turn it into biofuel. This was a double positive for the environment. The oil was no longer going to a landfill and it was producing a more eco-friendly, renewable energy alternative to petroleum gasoline.
My trash was another story. I discovered, through some research and careful attention, that the trash produced by a typical casual dining restaurant like mine was almost 70% compostable. What if I could pay a company to take my food waste and other compostable waste to be turned into compost? As I researched this I found out there were companies that provided this service, but not at a cost effective price point for my restaurant to switch.
Over the course of the next 18 months I continued wrestling with my desire to compost my restaurant’s food waste and other compostable waste. Why wasn’t anyone willing to do it at the price point I needed? I kept exploring these questions. I found out that there was a way to do it more cost effectively.
Almost two years after my initial conversation on how to make my restaurant more environmentally friendly I am launching Food FWD. Food FWD’s mission is to makes food waste diversion the easiest and economical choice for the Triangle food industry. We would love to hear about your efforts towards a more sustainable food industry. Please join the conversation with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.