Restaurant Waste Management

Managing your restaurant's waste may seem simple - after all, it's only trash - but the way it is handled can have a big impact on what it costs to deal with its disposal. From theft to pest control, improper handling of your restaurant's waste can have a wide range of negative consequences. Below, we cover how to prevent some of the most common issues regarding restaurant garbage disposal.

Employee Theft

When people think of employee theft, one image that comes to mind is a cashier taking cash from the drawer. However, that is not the only way dishonest employees steal from their employers: They may also use trash runs to sneak items out of the building1. An employee might "throw away" items or food that is still good, ensuring it gets taken to the outdoor trash can or dumpster. After the worker's shift is over and the restaurant is closed, he or she can go around to the dumpster and retrieve the goods.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help prevent employee theft through the trash, including using clear garbage bags to make it harder to conceal items in trash bags. Policies should be adopted to ensure boxes are always flattened before being discarded, and you may consider locking the dumpster to prevent unauthorized access.

Inflated Pickup Costs

Each time you call for trash collection to empty your restaurant's dumpster, you are paying for the service. To cut cost associated with restaurant waste, it is important to reduce how often collection is needed. This can be achieved by assessing your kitchen processes to help reduce the amount of waste produced. This can be done by carefully managing inventory, implementing a compost program, and installing a commercial garbage disposal.

Another factor that can impact how often you require trash pickup is outside trash sources. It may not seem like a big deal for the occasional bag of household trash to end up in your dumpster, but trash being dumped by employees or passers-by can accumulate quickly. To help deter this, you can post no trespassing signs, attach locks to the dumpster, or install cameras to catch illegal dumpers in the act.

While it is important to not overdo it on waste pickup, it is also important not to allow the dumpster to fill up for weeks without collection. Leaving trash for too long can attract pests, such as roaches and rodents. The dumpster's lids should be kept closed, so try to schedule trash pickups to ensure the dumpster is emptied before it fills up too much for the lids to close.

Dumpster Fires

Dumpsters catching on fire2 is a common occurrence that can be devastating if flames spread to nearby buildings. It is wise to take precautions to help prevent fires, both accidental and intentional. Cigarettes should always go in their own receptacles. If your employee smoking area is near the trash receptacle, ensure you put a cigarette receptacle nearby so there isn't temptation to flick the smoldering remnant into the dumpster. If you need to dispose of ashes, they should rest in a metal trash can for two to three days to ensure they are thoroughly extinguished.

If arson or vandalism is a concern in your area, you may consider attaching locks to the dumpster to restrict access. Some businesses also choose to erect fences around their dumpsters for the same effect. If neither of those is an option, some professionals recommend hosing down any flammable contents.3 However, keep in mind that waterlogging the contents will add to the weight of the dumpster and may result in higher hauling fees from your waste service provider.

Because some dumpster fires can be caused by spontaneous combustion, you should always dispose of cooking oil, gas cans, and propane tanks properly, which means they should not go in your dumpster. Even rags that have cooking oil on them can be dangerous and should never be disposed of in a dumpster.

  1. 6 Tips to Reduce Employee Theft. Entrepreneur. Accessed October 2017.
  2. Dumpster Fire Triggered Explosion at Corner Bar. MLive. Accessed October 2017.
  3. Dumpster Company Says Fires are Becoming a Common Occurrence. Security Solutions International. Accessed October 2017.