Downtown Recyclers Recognized, Restaurant Green Fork Program Launched

January 12, 2015

Mayor Greg Fischer and the Solid Waste Division of Metro Public Works today celebrated a dramatic increase in recycling in the Central Business District (CBD) over the past ten months, and launched a new annual certification program for restaurants that consistently practice recycling.

The Wet-Dry Recycling program was launched in the Central Business District in March 2014. Since then most in the CBD have used simple methods to separate wet waste from dry waste so more of the dry waste remains recyclable and thus can be diverted from the landfill. A component specifically for restaurants and coffee shops collects their separated food scraps and coffee grinds for diversion into compost rather than the landfill.

Wet-Dry recycling is a key element in the community wide goal of 90 percent diversion from the landfill by 2042. Fischer thanked Wet Dry recyclers who he said “have played a big role in demonstrating that we are on our way to making that a reality.” The Solid Waste Division is now considering how to expand the program beyond the CBD.

In April 2014 Solid Waste recovered 18.8 tons of recyclable materials and 17.8 tons of organic materials in the CBD. In December those numbers rose to 71.7 tons of recyclables and 46.7 tons of organics. That’s a 281 percent increase in recyclables diverted from the landfill and a 162 percent rise in diverted organic material. The rate of diversion from the landfill rose from a baseline of 11 percent, up to 76 percent in December.

The newly launched restaurant initiative is called the Green Fork. Restaurants that consistently comply with the wet-dry program through the course of 2015 will be awarded Green Fork status in January 2016. They will receive window stickers reminiscent of Health Department grades, allowing them to market themselves as environmentally friendly along with such other things as local food sourcing. Green Fork certification will occur annually.

Fischer told restaurants that Green Fork certification will be “a way that you can turn your participation into a competitive advantage” in marketing both the individual business and Louisville’s overall Food and Beverage industry—an industry that is already a key part of the community’s economic development strategy.

How Wet-Dry recycling works:

Wet-Dry refers to the way waste is separated for curbside collection. “Wet” waste includes foods, liquids, used tissues, and dirty paper towels. This waste is most common in bathrooms, break rooms, and kitchen areas.

“Dry” waste is basically everything else. Plastics, paper, clean cardboard, aluminum containers, metals, glass, etc. In most office settings, well over 75% of waste is recyclable - in some cases it is over 90%!  The program allows Solid Waste to recycle almost all of this material.

Participants keep the two waste types separate by making sure that all wet waste is placed in black garbage bags. All restroom waste receptacles are lined with black garbage bags. In break rooms, kitchen areas, or coffee station areas, at least one receptacle lined with a black bag is designated for collection of food, coffee grinds, liquids, dirty tissues and paper towels.

Dry waste goes into containers lined with clear plastic bags. Both the black and clear bags are placed in the orange recycling bin provided by Solid Waste. Dry waste may also be placed loosely in the orange bin. At the recycling center the black bags of wet waste are pulled out before processing begins.

Restaurants and coffee shops, in addition to the orange cart, have brown carts specifically for disposal of their higher volumes of food waste. That organic matter is collected separately and used as compost.