Two-thirds of restaurateurs have recycling programs

May 24 — Roughly two-thirds of the nation´s restaurateurs have recycling programs as part of their sustainability efforts, according to a new study conducted by the National Restaurant Association in partnership with Georgia-Pacific Professional.

“Sustainability is more than a fad; it´s the new way of doing business in the restaurant industry,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “Our research found that a majority of consumers prefer to patronize restaurants with recycling programs, and restaurants are following suit to ensure they meet their customers´ expectations.”

The research, released at the 2011 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, shows that three out of five consumers prefer to visit restaurants that have recycling practices in place. The study provides a comprehensive overview of restaurant recycling practices that will help restaurant operators meet consumer needs, enhance their environmental programs, and be more profitable.

Highlights of the restaurant recycling study include:



  • Sixty-five percent of restaurateurs currently have a recycling program in place, and 13% participate in composting programs. 
  • Seventy-four percent of restaurateurs who recycle do so in the kitchen and office areas, while 43% have a program in the dining room and other customer-facing areas. 
  • Nearly three out of four restaurant operators (72%) use products made from recycled materials; the most common of these items were bags, paper products and food containers. 
  • Sixty percent of consumers say they prefer to visit a restaurant that recycles. 
  • A strong majority of consumers (85%) say they sort recyclables in quick-service restaurants if receptacles are provided. 
  • About half of consumers (51%) say they are willing to pay a little more for menu items at a restaurant that recycles. 

The full recycling research report can be downloaded at

Chrissy Kadleck is a correspondent for Waste & Recycling News. Contact her at or 330-836-9180.

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