Utah Food Services (UFS), a full-service caterer, is meeting its mission statement of promoting mindful and creative ways to reduce their carbon footprint by incorporating the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. UFS’ commitment to reducing their environmental footprint has resulted in a substantial reduction of waste since they supply food and beverages for the Salt Palace Convention Center and South Towne Expo, in addition to wedding, corporate events, and Christmas parties. “It definitely takes some time and energy to get the program in place, but when you see the amount recycled and diverted material start to grow by tons, you know you’re doing the right thing,” says Doug Curry, Facilities Manager.
Conservation of natural resources is not a new concept to UFS, as the company has been recycling cardboard and office paper since 1996. Their recycling program has been expanded to include glass, aluminum, steel cans, plastic containers, grease, and fry oil. In 2009, 1,250 gallons of waste cooking oil was collected by Renegade Oil Inc. UFS has recycled close to 24 tons of mixed recyclables and glass since March 2009. Curry credits their employee participation and training program as the key to their successful recycling program.
In order to reduce their use of water and petroleum products, UFS has adopted the following strategies:
- Switched to disposable service-ware made from plant derivatives instead of petroleum products.
- Replaced old cargo vans with vehicles that run on a combination of ethanol and gasoline.
- Purchased organic, locally-grown food products whenever possible.
- Converted to dishwashing machines with low-level water arms, resulting in a 30% reduction in water usage.
- Replace individual water bottles with five-gallon water coolers and a bulk water station in an effort to reduce plastic bottles use.
Working through Momentum Recycling, UFS has implemented a program to compost all fruit, vegetable, and floral wastes. As of July 2009, UFS has diverted 17 tons of food waste from the landfill. In keeping with their reuse goals, UFS provides surplus food inventory, delivered in reusable containers, to the Utah Food Bank and neighboring shelters.
The company takes great pride in their green initiatives that increase the percentage of their waste stream that is diverted away from landfills and into recycling programs, known as diversion rate. Their overall recycling program cost just over $1,500 last year. Curry anticipates that figure to decrease in the future once the cardboard and paper markets rebound. Curry also pointed out that the recycling program could become profitable if they received revenue from their aluminum cans.
Future efforts include implementing a program to reduce the amount of china pre-set on banquet tables and installing solar panels at their North Salt Lake facility. They envision using environmentally-friendly construction practices for future expansion projects and expanding their fuel efficiency program.