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National Restaurant Association - Composting no longer fringe activity for restaurants

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Composting no longer fringe activity for restaurants

Restaurateurs who investigated composting at the 2010 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show might be surprised by what they’ll hear at this year’s convention, according to an expert speaking on the topic.

A major deterrent to composting has been the lack of facilities that accept organic restaurant waste and allow it to decompose.  But that obstacle is disappearing as demand soars and many areas speed up the permitting process, explains Holly Elmore, CEO of Zero Waste Zone, an initiative to reduce what’s dumped in landfills.

"Now," she says, "everyone gets it."

In two years, composting will be a standard practice for restaurants, she predicts.

With that in mind, the NRA has scheduled an education session at the NRA Show to walk restaurateurs through the practicalities of composting. 

Elmore will explain why the practice, or what the panel dubs a “silent hero,” is important to restaurants. At worst it costs them nothing and at best it cuts their hauling fees.

Elmore contends that composting is quickly becoming a sales generator, too. She cites an Atlanta caterer that landed $163,000 in business because it composted. "Both the corporate and the private customers don’t want you just to talk the talk, they want you to make it a standard operating procedure," she says.

Joining her on the panel will be Chris Koetke, dean of Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts, who will recount the nuts and bolts of the institution’s composting program; Chris Moyer, project manager of the NRA’s Conserve initiative, who will discuss how the association and its state partners are working with authorities to foster a composting infrastructure; and Chris Newman, environmental scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency, to explain why a successful composting program requires a commitment from the top.

The panel, "Compost: The Quiet Hero Returns to Explain 'How,' " is scheduled for noon Saturday, May 21.

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