Industry News | October 23, 2007

Burgerville Rolls Out Composting and Recycling Program to All Units

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The Holland, Inc. today announced that its Burgerville chain of quick-service restaurants will expand its pilot composting and recycling program company-wide in an effort to redirect 85 percent of restaurant-generated waste. Burgerville has 39 restaurants across Oregon and Southwest Washington, and is best known for its focus on fresh, locally sourced seasonal menu items and sustainable business practices.

The new program underscores Burgerville’s commitment to infusing accountability and responsibility throughout its entire supply chain. Along with composting and recycling at each restaurant, the company is partnering with its suppliers to develop innovative ways for packaging and managing raw materials at the onset and in food delivery to guests with the goal that most items will never enter the waste stream.

“We all must take responsibility for reducing the waste we produce,” said Tom Mears, President and CEO of The Holland, Inc. “Our four month-long pilot program proved that a passionate commitment from our employees and small, sensible adjustments to the daily routine will allow us to successfully launch this recycling model into all our restaurants.”

the rollout of the expanded composting and recycling initiative, Burgerville is expected to be participating on a full-scale basis by the end of this year. At present, 34 Burgerville restaurants are participating in the recycling program and eight restaurants are participating in a prototype program which incorporates both composting and recycling. It is the company’s goal to have 20 restaurants participating in both composting and recycling by January 2008 and ultimately all 39 restaurants doing both by mid-2008. This is a “back of house” operation for kitchens and garbage areas, not the guest dining rooms. Guest areas will be added to the program as processes are fully developed.

“We are proud of our front-line people who have transformed one of a restaurant’s grittiest jobs – ‘taking out the garbage’ – into a noble one that will create a real difference for our communities and the environment,” said Jack Graves, chief cultural officer of The Holland. “Businesses contribute the highest percentage of waste to landfills. Nearly 30 percent of this figure is food and food-soiled paper alone, so restaurant participation in composting is crucial. We are eager to share the knowledge we’ve gained in this process, in the hope that our positive results will inspire others to examine how they, too, can successfully incorporate similar programs.”

Working with the City of Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development, Burgerville’s effort is serving as a model for businesses to use to develop their own recycling programs. With this program, Burgerville will be taking another important step in its company-wide effort to lead the industry in sustainability, both at its restaurants and within the company’s supply chain of food providers and other restaurant suppliers.

The Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development has found that 75 percent of waste generation comes from the business sector, while 25 percent originates with single-family households. Overall, nearly 270,000 tons of food and food-soiled paper are thrown away each year in the Portland metropolitan area. Burgerville currently generates 340 tons of waste monthly. To visualize a year’s worth of accrual, imagine a basketball court-sized space filled with a 16-foot pile of garbage. With full implementation of its new composting and recycling program, Burgerville will reduce that pile down to a height of about two feet.

“More than 90 percent of what Portland metropolitan area residents and businesses discard can be recycled or composted, and Burgerville’s participation is a substantial contribution to the region’s sustainability,” said Dan Saltzman, City of Portland commissioner and founder of the Portland Office of Sustainable Development. “The Holland, Inc. is a model for Portland’s restaurant community: they empower their employees, develop processes that fit into their workday, conduct effective peer training, and show rapid results.”

Composting and recycling waste is not only good for the environment -- Burgerville has found the cost to recycle costs less than garbage removal fees. If Burgerville moves 85 percent of its waste stream to composting or recycling, instead of sending the amount to a landfill, the company would assume a $100,000 cost savings in waste removal charges each year. Burgerville’s food waste is delivered to the Cedar Grove Composting, a Washington-state organic recycling company, that turns the material into nutrient-rich compost sold to business and home owner use for soil enhancement.

To encourage greater recycling at their restaurants, Burgerville is creating a workplace which provides visual cues to employees on how to follow the process, including color-coded internal containers to use for the recycling and composting efforts. Peer-led training sessions reinforce the importance and commitment to the recycling program, and how it contributes to the health and vitality of the communities Burgerville serves.