Starting a composting program at your business can save money, decrease your environmental footprint, improve employee job satisfaction and fulfill customer demands for sustainable business practices. GreenWaste.com reports Americans generate 21.5 million tons of food residuals annually. If that food waste were composted rather than sent to landfills, the greenhouse gas emission reduction would be the equivalent of taking more than two million cars off the road.

Composting is sometimes looked at as an expensive process that leaves unpleasant smells. On the contrary, composting can actually save your business money by reducing the amount of trash you produce and in turn reducing your waste disposal fees. And since compost is made up of materials you usually dispose of, it will smell the same as the waste you currently put in your trash bins.

While restaurants have seen the biggest push for composting, the food industry is not the only one that can work to keep leftover food out of landfills. Large and small companies can start their own composting programs to ensure scraps from kitchens and catered events don’t end up in a landfill. Start a composting program at your workplace by following these steps.

1.    Contact your waste management company to see what services are available. Most likely your current trash pickup provider has a composting option available.

2.    Publicize the switch to three-stream waste system – trash, recycle, compost – in your company newsletter, email communication and with signage near waste receptacles.

3.    Place lidded containers lined with compostable bags in food areas with instructions for adding food leftovers, flowers, coffee grounds, tea bags and uncoated paper cups and plates.

4.    Establish workplace Green Team, made up of employees from various departments and seniority levels who can lead the charge on the initiative, recommends City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

5.    Work with janitorial staff, or create a schedule for Green Team members to collect waste from around the workplace, and place it in compost removal bins by your trash and recycling.

Then, thank your staff for helping make a greener workplace, and rest easy knowing this one small change has made a big impact on the environment.