Feeding Animals Your Leftovers
Farmers have accepted leftover raw foods for generations and they'll often pick up food at a reduced cost (compared to landfill hauling) or even for free. Regulations vary from state to state on what types of discarded food is acceptable for animal feed, but coffee grounds and high-salt content foods are usually not accepted and can be harmful to livestock.
Contact your county's agricultural extension office, state veterinarian, or health department to learn specific rules, state regulations and contact information for licensed farmers.
Find Industrial Uses
There are typically two ways to use leftover food for industrial uses: 1) converting fats, oils, and greases to biofuel, and 2) anaerobic digestion to produce methane, electricity, or both.
FOG to Biofuel
There is a robust market for regularly picking up restaurateurs' leftover FOG and converting it to fuel. According to NRA research, 74% of restaurateurs surveyed recycle their FOG. If not properly disposed of, FOG can clog your sewer pipes and you could be fined for proper cleanup. Contact your municipality's water department for proper handling instructions and an approved list of FOG service providers.
Anaerobic Digestion (AD)
AD takes organic material and ferments it in the absence of oxygen. This creates methane (natural gas) that can be burned for industrial uses or to make electricity. You'll need to find an AD facility near you and contact a hauler for regular pickups.
See more materials below.
Also consider: filtering your cooking oil
What if you could take your discarded, unusable food and turn it into soil-enriching "food" for crops and gardens? That's basically what organic composting does.
Non-edible food scraps — plate scrapings, fruit and vegetable peelings, spoiled foods, etc. — can be collected and converted into compost that can be used to fertilize crops, lawns and gardens.
Food waste is often the largest waste stream in your restaurant and it is costing you! Food waste is full of water, making it heavy and more costly to haul to the landfill.
Composting can lower your hauling costs, remove tons of waste from water treatment plants, and divert reusable, organic matter from landfills.
Unfortunately, composting facilities are not available in all municipalities. Find one near you at: Composting Facility Locator (BioCycle Magazine).