Denver International Airport (DIA) is partnering with one of its newest restaurants, Root Down, to pilot the airport’s first commercial composting program in the concourse area.

Restaurateur Justin Cucci partnered with DIA concessionaire Rod Tafoya of Mission Yogurt Inc. to open Root Down in September 2013, bringing award-winning food and a progressive design aesthetic to Concourse C. Root Down utilizes local growers and sustainable meats and fish and operates with a field-to-fork mentality. The restaurant’s downtown location also places a heavy emphasis on composting its food waste.

In partnership with DIA’s Environmental Services section, Root Down DIA will begin composting its food waste this month. The restaurant will collect all of its organic and compostable materials, including food scraps and back-of-the-house food preparation waste, in 65-gallon bins that will be collected daily. The compost material from DIA and the Root Down pilot program is taken to an off-site facility by Waste Management.

“Denver International Airport has made sustainability a high priority, and we are delighted that Root Down will partner with us to reduce the amount of solid waste being sent to landfills,” says Kim Day, Denver’s manager of aviation. “We hope we can get additional tenants to embrace this and other programs that reduce our environmental impact.”

DIA began composting food waste from restaurants and paper towels from public restrooms inside the Jeppesen Terminal last year. So far, that program has resulted in approximately 72 tons of solid waste being diverted from local landfills. Because of the additional complexity of collecting, storing and transporting compostable materials from the concourses, the Root Down program will help DIA determine the feasibility of expanding composting to additional concourse restaurants.

“As a restaurant, environmental sustainability is one of our highest goals; contributing to our local agricultural wellness through a successful composting program is a great way to connect to the same ecosystem that supports our DIA community and guests,” says chef Daniel Asher, Root Down’s culinary director. “Our staff is honored to be a part of such a forward-thinking composting initiative as leaders in the quickly evolving environmentally focused landscape.”

“We place a huge emphasis on high quality food sourcing and sustainability” says Rod Tafoya, owner of Mission Yogurt Inc. “We are thrilled to be a part of this new green initiative, and continue to promote environmental stewardship with our partners at Root Down and DIA."

Waste Management works with A-1 Organics to recycle all of the airport’s composting material and prepare it for reuse. The material will eventually be used for high quality compost and mulches used in landscaping applications.

“As Colorado’s largest recycler, Waste Management is excited to support DIA’s first concourse pilot composting program,” says Jack Cella, Waste Management’s area director of sales. “Food makes up over 15 percent of the overall waste thrown away daily in American households. Providing pilot programs such as this are a good way to divert waste from landfills and conserve natural resources.”