October 9, 2023

3 Min Read
Eco-Products Unveils New Program to Help Prevent Contamination in Compost Streams

BOULDER, Colo.- Eco-Products® announced an innovative new program to help foodservice operators keep non-compostable items out of their organics streams.

The program, called Controls Intended to Remove Contamination (CIRC), will verify that restaurants and other operators are taking important steps to prevent non-compostable materials from being sent to composting facilities.

While food scraps, yard trimmings and certified compostable packaging can be composted, anything else creates serious problems for composters.

"Contamination from non-compostable products is the defining challenge for many composters today," said Wendell Simonson, Director of Marketing at Eco-Products. "Unfortunately, most composters have an extremely limited ability to deal with contamination once it gets to their facilities. That's why foodservice operators must put controls in place to prevent that contamination from ever getting to composters in the first place."

CIRC is designed to help foodservice operators take measures to do just that — and verify those efforts so composters can be more confident about accepting material from them. The program features scorecards that foodservice operators will use to show composters and haulers that the necessary controls are in place to generate contaminant-free organics streams. The scorecard is divided into four sections — Procurement, Operations, Communications and Hauler Engagement — that contain criteria and conditions that are either required or encouraged.

The program will be "open sourced," meaning that the scorecards and other supporting materials will be available to anyone interested in using them — not just customers and partners of Eco-Products — and the company will not be charging a fee to participate.

Individual composting facilities would be able to determine their own "passing" scores, and which conditions are required vs. encouraged. Among the criteria that will be used:

  • Is there an ordering guide in place for compostable products that has been approved by the composter?

  • Is there an agreement in place with the distributor to stock all items on the ordering guide?

  • Are employees actively engaged in the management of waste streams?

  • Do guests receive clear instructions regarding how to discard compostable and non-compostable foodservice items?

  • Is messaging provided in the venue and through labeling on compostable items?

  • Is there an on-site sorting process in place to inspect all organics streams before they are picked up by the hauler?

The new program was launched after a 2022 study looking at contamination in foodservice waste streams found that restaurants and other venues could divert more food scraps and other materials from landfills by adopting compostable packaging as part of an integrated approach to their operations.

The CompostAble Chicago study examined four foodservice venues in the Chicago area — a full-service restaurant, a museum quick-serve café, a school cafeteria and a university quick-serve café — and collected data on operating conditions and the composition of their waste streams.

The study found that venues using compostable cups, plates and utensils collected more food scraps under favorable operating conditions. Importantly, those food scraps could be relied upon to contain lower levels of contamination when key operating conditions were met.

"Organics diversion at scale in the foodservice industry is impossible without composter willingness to accept and process post-consumer food scraps and certified packaging," Simonson said. "An operator-driven systems approach to contamination mitigation is long overdue."

Eco-Products is rolling out the program through its nationwide team of waste diversion experts called "Product & Zero Waste Specialists." Restaurants, institutions, commercial venues and other foodservice operators can learn more about CIRC at www.ecoproducts.com/circ.

About Eco-Products, PBC
Eco-Products®, a Novolex® brand and certified B Corp, is a leading provider of foodservice packaging made from renewable and recycled resources. Eco-Products offers packaging with real environmental benefits, works with customers to improve composting and recycling, and collaborates with the broader industry to shift how businesses and consumers think about and manage waste. With the goal of Zero Waste as part of the company mission, Eco-Products is using business as a force for good. Visit www.ecoproducts.com for more information.

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