Restaurants may want to think twice before throwing eggshells or leftover meat in the garbage. In the coming weeks, the City of Eugene will begin its new “Love Food, Not Waste” campaign to give businesses incentive to participate in food waste composting programs.
The new campaign is a major part of the city’s “Community Climate and Energy Action Plan,” @@http://www.myeugene.org/2010/09/17/eugene-now-has-a-community-climate-and-energy-action-plan/@@which the City Council unanimously adopted in 2010. The plan lists 78@@http://special.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/web/news/cityregion/25459575-41/plan-eugene-ideas-meat-red.csp@@ ideas for businesses and residents to help the city achieve its goal of cutting carbon emissions in half by 2030.@@http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=730&PageID=4083&cached=true&mode=2&userID=2@@
The city has been working with local compost collectors such as Rexius Sustainable Solutions@@http://www.rexius.com/@@ and has developed a rate at which compost haulers would charge businesses that is 20 percent below the cost of current garbage pick-up.
“We won’t say to businesses, ‘Hey, here’s a program, make it happen,’” said Ethan Nelson@@http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt?space=CommunityPage&control=SetCommunity&CommunityID=232&PageID=302@@, an official in the city’s Waste Prevention and Green Building Program.@@http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt?space=CommunityPage&control=SetCommunity&CommunityID=232&PageID=302@@ Rather, the city will provide compost containers for businesses, instructions of what can and cannot be composted for display in restaurant kitchens and free employee training. Nelson said so far the budget estimate totals $70,000 for the program.
Rexius will accept dairy, meat, eggshells and tofu wastes from restaurants, cafeterias and grocery stores for composting in December, according to Jack Hoeck, vice president of the company’s environmental services. Another large Eugene recycling and garbage pick-up company, Sanipac, began collecting food waste for composting from businesses Tuesday.@@http://www.sanipac.com/@@
But persuading some local businesses near the University campus, such as Cafe Siena on East 13th Avenue, to compost food waste may be a challenge.@@http://www.yelp.com/biz/cafe-siena-eugene@@
“We’re not interested,” Cafe Siena manager Alberto Gomaz said.@@http://www.manta.com/g/mm41j3p/alberto-gomaz@@ “We want to keep the system we have now.”
Others, such as The Glenwood Restaurant, started composting all food waste last week, according to owner Jacqui Willey.@@probably http://www.facebook.com/jmonninger@@ Similarly, Cafe Roma’s manager Miguel Cortez@@back wall@@ said he isn’t opposed to the idea, saying the cafe already composts its coffee grounds.
Though composting is sustainable, Nelson said helping businesses prevent food waste in the first place is what the city ultimately wants to achieve with its campaign.
Milky Way Tea & Pastry on East 13th Avenue@@http://local.yahoo.com/info-29249994-milky-way-tea-pastry-eugene@@ seems to be ahead of the pack.
“I don’t think we produce enough waste to participate,” manager Jillian Cullan said.
The city plans to train businesses on how much food a business should buy and how much food it should prepare, which Nelson said will help lower costs in the long run.
“One of the reasons why we’re pushing waste prevention is because if you don’t create the waste in the first place, you don’t have to deal with the end result,” Nelson said.
Food waste composting isn’t just a trend in Eugene. On Monday, Portland implemented a mandatory curbside program for household waste, joining the ranks of Corvallis, Salem and Keizer. But Nelson and Hoeck of Rexius do not see that coming to Eugene anytime soon.@@http://special.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/web/business/20199161-41/story.csp@@
Beside the lack of resources the city has to implement such a program, Hoeck said collecting household compost is challenging, because many people don’t know exactly what is compostable. Plastics and other noncompostable materials can get mixed in and contaminate the product.
For now, Nelson said the city will focus on encouraging businesses to adopt more sustainable practices and to prevent waste.
“If we see the commercial program is successful, then we might start a pilot residential compost service and see how that works,” Nelson said.