New waste reduction program in place for some restaurants

Published on January 8, 2013
Cards on Tim Hortons tables in Pictou County tell the customer to leave their waste on the table so it can be sorted by an employee. A new waste management program means fast-food restaurants will be taking waste sorting into their own hands. John Brannen – The News

NEW GLASGOW – The next time you eat at a fast-food restaurant in Pictou County, you may be asked to leave your tray and trash at the table.

Since a new waste management program created by Pictou County Solid Waste came into effect on Jan. 1, the staff of fast-food restaurants will be handling the organic, recycling and trash themselves.

This means the familiar routine of trying to decide where your food waste goes at the end of a meal is coming to an end.

Carol MacKenzie, manager of the waste diversion program at Pictou County Solid Waste, said the new routine was implemented when a waste audit came back with some unsurprising news. “It found there were a lot of customers who were not sorting their waste properly.”

The Department of the Environment has a mandate for municipalities to reduce all waste in Nova Scotia by 25 per cent by 2015, which translates into about 300 kg per person.

Jim Shaw, owner of the Tim Hortons/Wendy’s franchise in Pictou County, says all fast food restaurants will be affected in the county.

“We are responsible for the waste we create,” he said. “The solid waste coming from our restaurants was too mixed and too contaminated.”

For Tim Hortons/Wendy’s, customers are asked to leave their waste on the tables to allow employees to sort it, similar to a full service restaurant.   

The two restaurants have cards on their tables informing customers of the changes. Stickers covering the openings for trash cans prevent people from throwing it out themselves.

MacKenzie says response from the business community has been positive. Staff at Solid Waste have taken photos of the materials thrown out in fast food restaurants and provided directions indicating what type of waste goes where.

Any public building that has a cafeteria, such as a school, will also be affected by the program.

“Pictou is the only county so far to take these measures to bring down the amount of waste we produce. We have the potential to be a model for the province.”