New pilot program hopes to cut back on food waste in Colorado restaurants

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DENVER — A new pilot program launched this week aims to cut back on food waste in Colorado restaurants.

Certifiably Green Denver, the city’s sustainability program, will offer free advising services to select restaurants during the next two months to help restaurants cut back on food waste.

When it comes to food waste, the city and county of Denver’s Department of Public Health and Environment said households come in first, making up 41 percent of Denver’s food waste and the restaurant-sector comes in second at 25 percent.

Some of Denver’s most popular restaurants have chosen to participate in the pilot program: Uncle, Bar Dough, The Bindery, Little Man Ice Cream, Ale House, Ash’Kara, Black Eye Coffee, Ohana Island Kitchen and Wooden Spoon Café & Bakery.

The chef/owner of Uncle, Tommy Lee, said he’s looking forward to the changes he’ll see in his restaurant.

“Food waste is a huge part of restaurants,” said Lee. “The more we can reduce that, it’s better for the entire system and all the dots that it connects.”

Lee said his restaurant uses 100 pounds of bones and vegetables every day to make its soups. It’ll now be composted, whereas before, it was going into landfills.

“This is a better solution than throwing it in the garbage and have it end up in a landfill,” said Lee. “It’s great to see it funnel back through the ecosystem and become compost where nutrients go back into the soil and start that cycle again,” said Lee.

The program will take a three-pronged approach. Each restaurant will come up with a strategy tailored to their restaurant’ to cut back on food waste and implement it during the two-month pilot. Restaurants will work with the nonprofit We Don’t Waste to donate leftover food. Lastly, each restaurant will receive two free months of composting services with Alpine Waste Recycling and Scrap. Restaurant staff will be trained on composting and signage will be provided to alert customers about composting.


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