This is the second part of a four-part article about how distributors can help their customers compost.

As sustainability programs abound in today’s jan/san industry, the markers of a potential composting client have become easier to spot.
Good starting points are clients that already support extensive sustainability programs, perhaps a BSC working for a customer with LEED status or a customer with a high-volume foodservice operation. Grade schools, for example, have cafeterias and most university and college campuses have dining halls.

A distributor’s motivation to advise its clients on composting is more complex. There is definitely an opportunity to sell new products to their clients, says Steve Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group, a green cleaning consulting firm in Los Angeles.

Composting receptacles need compostable receptacle liners, which are made from specially tested plastics that are designed to biodegrade along with the compostable contents within. Customers may even request help finding a new receptacle system, sometimes with separate compartments for compost, recycling and regular waste.

Foodservice products may also present distributors with an opportunity for sales. To ensure a composting program’s success, it’s up to the customer to make the program as simple as possible. This becomes a problem when addressing contamination of a compost collection bin. If non-compostable products, like standard plastic cutlery, ever contaminate a composting bin, a janitorial staff must remove those non-compostable products, or, if the contamination is low enough, a waste hauler may be able to filter it out. If the waste hauler begins to notice too much contamination making its way into the compost stream, it will inform the customer that it must rectify the problem.

Building occupants, however, “are not going to take the time to separate the plastic knife and fork from the food on their plate,” says Kilsdonk. “They’re going to dump it all into the bin.”

Therefore, when a building begins composting, it’s usually necessary to replace its standard plastic foodservice products with either reusable or compostable products, taking the responsibility away from the building’s occupants. Distributors can provide those products.

And, of course, there’s always the altruistic reason: Composting can divert a substantial volume of waste from landfills — more than 60 percent in some cases. For example, in most restrooms, the waste bin is filled almost entirely with paper hand towels, which are compostable.

If neither new sales nor altruism are motivation enough for distributors to learn how to help launch a composting program, there’s also this: BSCs and in-house departments are interested, because facility executives are asking.

previous page of this article:
How The Cleaning Industry Can Help Customers Compost
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What's In The Waste Stream?