Working with some of the world’s most exclusive restaurants and hotels, Beverly Hills has been testing a food waste program over the last year designed to increase the city’s recycling levels. So far, the voluntary program has more than 120 participating restaurants and hotels, and collects an average of 600 tons a month in food waste.
Since 2004, Beverly Hills has contracted with Sun Valley, Calif.-based Crown Disposal for residential and commercial solid waste collection. As part of the contract, the company will meet the state’s mandatory 50 percent landfill diversion rate by reducing, reusing and recycling solid waste. However, with the recession and decline in construction waste, the city turned to commercial food establishments to increase the diversion rate. They devised a plan that would provide restaurants and hotels with separate bins for food waste and other garbage and collect them separately. Participants’ solid waste fees, which are determined by the size bins they choose and how often they need collection, would not change to cover the program’s cost. The hauler established one additional collection route for the commercial food waste customers. The food waste is converted into compost, which is sold to commercial farmers and residents, and is often available for free at community events.
Before the program started, Beverly Hills was diverting 61 percent of its solid waste from landfills. Now, it is diverting approximately 73 percent. Additionally, participating restaurants and hotels can gain credits toward “green” certification initiatives. “We are hoping to expand our commitment to finding ways to divert more materials from landfills by working with local restaurant and hotel personnel to find alternatives to conventional packaging and other items, which are harmful to the environment, ” says Shana Epstein, environmental utilities manager.
Project: Food waste collection and reuse
Jurisdiction: Beverly Hills, Calif.
Agency: Public Works Department
Vendor: Sun Valley, Calif.-based Crown Disposal
Date started: November 2008
Cost: covered by participants’ solid waste fees