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NYS FOOD SYSTEM SUSTAINABILITY CLEARINGHOUSE

Source Separation

Source Separation

There are a few key aspects of successfully source-separating your food waste:

BINS

  • Type

    • Collection bins should be as consistent in color, style and signage as possible. For example, designating green totes for food waste only helps to eliminate confusion.

    • Keep all food waste collection bins a consistent sytle whenever possible. For example, avoid using a normal trash can as a food waste collection bin.

  • Placement

    • Bins should be placed in locations that are intuitive and frequently used. It is common to have certain bins that ‘float’ around where needed, but try to keep the ‘core’ bins in consistent locations.
    • Make sure you have enough bins for the amount of food waste generated. Keeping at least one bin in each ‘area’ such as the dishwashing station or vegetable prep station is a good idea.

    • If you are working with space constraints, consider keeping small bins at points of waste generation and emptying these into larger bins kept elsewhere.  

SIGNAGE

  • Clear

    • Wherever there is a collection bin, there should be a sign clearly stating what can go in it. This is especially important for front of the house collection bins, because customers need to be able to quickly discern which materials should go where.

    • Signs should include pictures of what can (and cannot) be thrown in the bin. If possible, take pictures of foods and containers that are actually used at your business, so everything is easily recognizable.

TRAINING

  • Employee Training

    • Explaining to your employees what can and cannot be thrown in the separation bins is very important. This could be as simple as a group meeting at the beginning of roll-out.

    • Especially in the early stages of implementing diversion, assess the contamination levels in your bins. If there are high levels of contamination in back-of-the-house bins, reiterate the source separation guidelines with the staff.

    • Consider designating one or two employees as ‘trainers.’ If you have a large staff, it could be beneficial to carefully train this small group of employees who are then responsible for training the remaining staff on a day-to-day basis. This 'train the trainer’ approach helps to relieve some of time commitment associated with training from the managers and high-level management.

TIMING

  • Start Small

    • Depending on the size of your business, it could be daunting to try to implement diversion throughout the whole business at one time. If you have a food service operation, consider implementing diversion in the back of house operations first.

    • Starting with back of the house allows better control to be able to train employees and become comfortable with the change of operations. It also allows an opportunity to work out ‘kinks’ on a small scale before rolling out to the whole operation.