There’s a lot of truth to the saying “waste not, want not”—even when it comes to garbage and waste management. How you manage what goes out the back door of your kitchen can make a difference to your business, as well as to the environment.
In some parts of Canada, commercial waste collection is provided by the municipality. In other areas, businesses make their own collection arrangements with private contractors. Regardless of where you live, you’ll have several types of waste to deal with: garbage, recycling and grease.
EZWaste, which recently changed its name from National Waste Network, works with about 6,800 haulers in the United States and Canada to collect trash and recycling from all kinds of businesses, big and small. The company has the expertise to work with the special needs of its restaurant clients.
“More frequent coverage, with more frequent pickups. Usually a smaller can with more frequency,” CEO Dave Turgeon says. “Sometimes you have to worry about enclosures, sometimes you have to worry about timed stops or days, just because they might be very busy Thursday, Friday, Saturday—so their pickup schedule might be odd.”
Turgeon says the three big benefits EZWaste can offer are cost savings, better terms and a service guarantee.
“We do a full analysis of every account that comes in, so we can tell them what it should cost them. We give them a write-up on what they’re paying, what their savings are and so forth,” Turgeon says.
“An average Sysco customer is paying about $480 a month, and the average savings we get them is just under $180 or so,” he adds. “That’s about two grand a year, and that’s pretty much average. So it adds up pretty quickly.”
EZWaste can also help customers avoid some of the pitfalls of service contracts, such as unforeseen price increases, automatic renewals and damages.
“There are a lot of bad things in some of these contracts,” Turgeon says. “We rewrote the contract in favour of the customer, so they get the benefit of our contract.”
Turgeon adds that the company’s service guarantee allows customers to cancel with 30 days notice if there are any service problems.
“We did craft kind of a no-brainer approach for Sysco customers, where they just don’t have any risk,” he says. “They get the savings, they get the terms and they can cancel if they don’t like the service. So it’s kind of a no-brainer.”
Turgeon says the goal was to create a system that would be so easy for the user that everyone would want to use it.
“Trash is a funny business,” Turgeon says. “There’s a lot to know, but what we try to do is keep it really simple for the customer and allow them to get these benefits quickly and easily.”
Once the trash and recycling is taken care of, you may still have a bucket of kitchen grease by the back door. That grease will have a new life once it gets collected, cleaned and recycled.
“We’re renderers—recyclers of animal by-products. And part of the waste stream is we recycle restaurant grease,” says West Coast Reduction president and CEO Barry Glotman.
West Coast Reduction has six plants in western Canada, and services most of the restaurants in that part of the country. The company’s specialized trucking service picks up oil bins from restaurants.
“Pretty much every restaurant would have a bin or a barrel of fat. They’re not allowed to take that fat and dump it down the drain, so they dump it into bins or barrels,” he says. “When those bins or barrels get full, then we go around and pick them up. So restaurants get picked up anywhere from every week or every month, depending on the volumes.”
Back at one of West Coast Reduction’s six plants, that grease gets recycled, cleaned and processed into a finished oil that has several uses. It can be used in animal feed for its caloric value, used in soap production, and may soon be used in the manufacture of biodiesel fuel.
“The end product of recycled restaurant grease is what we call a feed-grade fat or a feed-grade oil. It’s purified oil,” Glotman says. “Instead of just taking that waste and just putting it into a landfill, it’s being recycled and there’s value added to it.”