Recycling and the Commercial Kitchen

Restaurants create large portions of food to serve many people. With this large amount of production comes a lot of waste, and waste costs money, both in uneaten or spoiled food and trash fees. Along with the environmental benefits, there are several other reasons for a restaurant to engage in a recycling program.

The Advantages of Recycling

  • Recycling is good for business. Customers take notice of and appreciate a restaurant’s efforts to reduce waste, leading to a better public image. This can increase customer loyalty.
  • Cheaper trash fees. The fewer times the dumpster needs to be emptied, the less you will have to pay for trash pickup. Just ask me how!
  • Reduced purchasing cost. Restaurants with an effective recycling program will have several in-house reusable items, like cloth cleaning rags and reusable flatware. This will reduce the amount of new products that need to be purchased.

Recyclable materials


  • Nearly everything aluminum can be made from recycled aluminum.
  • Recycling just one ton of aluminum cans saves the energy equivalent of 1,665 gallons of gasoline.

Food Waste

  • As much as 40% of all restaurant waste is food waste.
  • Food waste can be composted to create a nutrient rich soil additive.
  • Farms, greenhouses, even home gardens can benefit from composted food waste.


  • Old cardboard boxes can be donated to charities for reuse or sent to a recycling facility to make new cardboard and other paper products.
  • Recycling one ton of cardboard saves 460 gallons of oil.


  • Glass can be reused an infinite number of times.
  • Anything made of glass can be recycled into new glass products.
  • Recycling a single glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 100W light bulb for four hours.


  • All non-glossy paper can be recycled into several products including newspaper, bathroom tissue and kitty litter.
  • Every ton of paper recycled saves energy equivalent to 185 gallons of gasoline.


  • Recycled plastic can be used to create several products ranging from mop heads to t-shirts.
  • Five two-liter recycled bottles can produce enough insulation for a men’s ski jacket.


  • Recycled steel can be made into steel cans, building supplies and tools.
  • Steel recycling saves enough energy in one year to power 18 million homes for that entire year.

Used fryer oil

  • Fryer oil can be turned into bio-diesel, a popular alternative fuel.
  • Rather than paying to have your oil taken away, bio-diesel companies are actually paying restaurants for this resource. Ask me how!

Go Green!

Going Green for the Holidays!

To help decrease the 900,000 tons of trash that Americans throw away between Thanksgiving and Christmas, try the eco-friendly tips below.

  • Conserve energy by using long-lasting LED lights on a timer.
  • Reuse old gift cards and make them into name tags for new gifts.
  • Send e-cards instead of buying new ones.
  • Use old magazines, newspapers and calendars as gift wrap.
  • When entertaining, avoid using disposable plates and napkins. Instead, recruit family to help wash and dry dishes.
  • Instead of buying holiday decorations for your dinner table, use natural pinecones, leaves, branches and evergreen boughs.

The Many Faces of Plastic!

There are many types of plastic in use. Plastic must be sorted by type for recycling since each type melts at a different temperature and has different properties. The plastics industry has developed an identification system (or identification codes) to label the different types of plastic. The identification system divides plastic into seven distinct types and uses a number code generally found on the bottom of containers. The following table explains the seven code system.

Plastic #1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
Common uses: 2 liter soda bottles, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter jars. This is the most widely recycled plastic and the only one with a redemption value under the California “Bottle Bill.” Many recycling programs and centers request that you remove caps and flatten the bottles.

Plastic #2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Common uses: detergent bottles, milk jugs, grocery bags. Most curbside recycling programs accept rigid narrow neck containers.

Plastic #3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Common uses: plastic pipes, outdoor furniture, shrink wrap, water bottles, salad dressing and liquid detergent containers. Recycling centers almost never take #3 plastic. Look for alternatives whenever possible.

Plastic #4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
Common uses: dry cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners, food storage containers.

Plastic #5: Polypropylene (PP)
Common uses: aerosol caps, drinking straws. Recycling centers almost never take #5 plastic. Look for alternatives whenever possible.

Plastic #6: Polystyrene (PS) a.k.a. “Styrofoam”
Common uses: packaging pellets or peanuts, cups, plastic tableware, meat trays, to-go “clam shell” containers. Many shipping/packaging stores will accept polystyrene peanuts and other packaging materials for reuse.

Plastic #7: Other
Common uses: certain kinds of food containers and Tupperware. This plastic category, as its name of “other” implies, is any plastic other than the named #1-#6 plastic types. These containers can be any of the several different types of plastic polymers. Recycling centers do not take plastic #7. Look for alternatives.

Don’t let plastic recycling be confusing. One way to think about the different types of plastic is to compare plastic to fruit. Not all fruit is the same. An apple is not an orange. Not all plastic is the same. Plastic #1 is not plastic #5. Even within the same plastic group there are differences. To understand what this means consider the fruit group called apples. A red apple is not a green apple. Similarly, a plastic #2 narrow neck milk jug is not the same as a plastic #2 wide mouth yogurt cup.

You can help keep the costs of collection, sorting and reprocessing down and keep the value of the plastic high by recycling only those types of plastic that are currently accepted for recycling.

For more recycling definitions:

Phone Book Recycling

Now that a majority of people have switched to using free online resources to search for everything, telephone books have become obsolete, annoying, and wasteful.

Did you know:

  • Telephone books generated 840,000 tons of paper waste in 2008. Only 20% of that was recycled last year, meaning 660,000 tons was discarded in the landfill  (source:  Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2007 Facts and Figures. U.S EPA.)
  • The production and disposal of these phone books generates 3,564,574 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is the equivalent of approximately 770 thousand extra passenger cars on the road every year.
  • In recent years, the number of phone books delivered to households and businesses has increased, with two or more competing companies’ now publishing and distributing books in similar or overlapping geographic areas.
  • On average, only 40% of the fiber used to produce telephone books comes from post-consumer recycled material.

There have been numerous legislation in different states, but none have been passed by the state legislature so far.

What You Can Do:

1) Urge your state legislature to support phone book opt-in programs, which would prohibit any person or entity from distributing “white pages” telephone listing directories to residents, except upon the request of the resident. There are currently two states with pending Phone book legislation:

  • California SB 920
  • Minnesota HF 170

2) Contact your service provider (to opt out).

3) Recycle your phone books

Go Green! Save our Planet!

True or False?

Does the recycling symbol on consumer products mean the item is made from recycled materials or that the item can be recycled?

The recycling logo does not necessarily mean either. The use of the recycling logo is not regulated by law. If the label only says recycle or recyclable it may contain no recycled content. It also may not be possible to recycle that item in your area.

To ensure you are buying a product made from recycled materials check the label for words that indicate the product is made from recycled materials. When buying materials, look for labels that indicate the highest percentage of post consumer recycled content.

False: Recycled products are inferior in quality

Recycled products have the same quality, reliability, and dependability. A 1996 survey by the Buy Recycled Business Alliance asked hundreds of corporate purchasing agents about their satisfaction with recycled content products. The survey results showed that 97% of respondents were pleased with the performance of recycled content products.

False: Recycled products are hard to find

Thousands of products are now made with some recycled content. All steel and most glass and aluminum made in the United States has recycled content. Many paper products, including white printer paper have recycled content. Clothes, purses, tool boxes, and many other items are also made with recycled materials.

False: Recycled paper gets stuck in copiers and printers

Technological advances have overcome quality issues, while increased consumer demand is resulting wider variety and availabilty, and lower prices. Recycled content papers now share the same printing and performance characteristics as their virgin equivalent. Recycled paper is available in a wide range of colors, weights, and styles, including the brightest whites. They also offer the same level of runnability and high quality imaging on copiers, and laser and ink jet printers.

This used to be the case for some materials, but now many recycled products are priced competitively with those made from virgin materials and in some cases are even cheaper. Demand has lowered prices, and if you continue to purchase products made with recycled materials, this trend will continue.

Go Green!

Post-Consumer Content

During a trip to the store, my 18 year old son asked me what does post-consumer waste mean.

I explained to Michael that over the past fifteen years or so, product packaging has undergone an explosion. Pick up any three boxed products and you will probably see some type of recycling label.

So what is the difference between recycled-content and post-consumer recycled content?

A recycled-content product is an item that contains recovered materials. Recovered materials are wastes that have been diverted from conventional disposal such as landfills for another use. Recovered materials include both pre-consumer and post-consumer wastes.

Pre-consumer materials are generated by manufacturers and processors, and may consist of scrap, trimmings and other by-products that were never used in the consumer market.

Post-consumer material is an end product that has completed its life cycle as a consumer item and would otherwise have been disposed of as a solid waste. Post-consumer materials include recyclables collected in commercial and residential recycling programs, such as office paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, plastics and metals.

Recycled-content products may contain some pre-consumer waste, some post-consumer waste or both. A product does not have to contain 100 percent recovered materials to be considered “recycled,” but clearly the higher the percentage of recycled content, the greater the amount of waste that is diverted from disposal. Always look at the level of post-consumer recycled content in a product.

Go Green!

What to do With Leftover Paint!

Call SLM to properly dispose of your paint.

Coatings Association, paint can last for years when you follow these proper storage tips:

  • Cover the opening with plastic wrap.
  • Make sure the lid fits securely so the paint doesn’t leak.
  • Store the paint can upside down; that creates a tight seal around the lid, keeping the paint fresh until you need it again.

You’ve probably got at least a few partially used cans of paint or stain sitting around your business.  Should you hold on to them for touch-up jobs or call SLM to dispose of?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently estimated that as much as 69 million gallons of paint are left over annually in the United States. That’s enough paint to cover 27.6 billion square feet each and every year, or the five boroughs of New York City—some 303 square miles—more than three times.
Check the label. Paint made before 1978 might contain lead, and paint made before 1991 might contain mercury. Both materials should be listed on the paint label. If they’re not and you’re concerned that the paint contains either of those neurotoxins, use to locate the information.

Water-based, or latex, paint can be recycled into new paint or it can even be used to create non-paint products such as cement. Oil-based, or alkyd, paint is usually used for fuel blending—meaning it’s burned to create energy at a power plant.

Call SLM to find out how to properly dispose of it in your area. Each municipality has different requirements, depending on whether the paint is oil or water-based.

Go Green!

Light Bulb Recycling

According to the Environmental Protection Agency approximately 800 million fluorescent lamps are disposed of every year. It only takes a single gram of mercury to contaminate a two-acre pond and cause potential ecological damage through water pollution. Therefore, 800 million lamps produce enough mercury to contaminate about 20 million acres of water.

When the bulbs break, mercury can contaminate the environment, including soils, people and animals in the surrounding the area. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can severely harm the human nervous system through ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption. It is a highly toxic heavy metal that acts as a cumulative poison similar to lead or DDT.

All fluorescent light bulbs are supposed to be disposed of properly, which means recycling these products instead of throwing them in the trash.
SLM partners with light bulb recyclers to dispose of broken or dead fluorescent bulbs. Call me to take a step towards green!
Spread the word:

Fluorescent lights are toxic to life on planet Earth;


Recycle Your Vegetable Oil

U.S. automobiles consume enough fuel to cover a regulation-size football field to the depth of about 40 miles, yearly! As a nation we are consuming approximately 20 million barrels of oil a day, making our country the number one consumer of non-renewable fossil fuels in the world.

The Vegetable Oil Alternative
Vegetable oil as a fuel source may sound like a wacky idea, but the very first diesel engine was built to run on peanut oil in 1900. Recently there has been an increase for the use of vegetable oil fuel in diesel engines: Biodiesel and recycled vegetable oil. Biodiesel is a chemically altered vegetable oil that can run in existing, non-converted diesel engines. Used vegetable oil, fryer grease, can be filtered and poured directly into a converted diesel engine.

Benefits of Vegetable Oil Fuel
Vegetable oil burned as fuel does not emit sulfur dioxide (SO2), a main compound in diesel responsible for acid rain. Recycled vegetable oil fuel produces 78% less carbon dioxide (CO2), the dominant greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, 48% less carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, 48% less asthma-causing particulate matter, and 80% less cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) than petroleum diesel.

How are you disposing of your oil?

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