Food Waste Recycling

Restaurants, food courts, hotels, markets, food manufacturers/processors and hospitals meeting specific size criteria are required to recycle food waste per Chapter 9, Section 9-3.5 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu.

This page provides useful information to help these organizations meet this recycling requirements.

It’s Good for the Environment

Recycling and composting will reduce the amount of waste going to City disposal sites. Existing landfills will last longer and expensive expansions to H-POWER may not be needed. Additionally, separate collection of food waste for recycling may make the environment immediately surrounding your facility neater, cleaner and fresher-smelling.

It's Cost Effective

For local businesses that generate large volumes of food waste such as the Hard Rock Cafe, Foodland, Sheraton Hotels and the Hilton Hawaiian Village, recycling makes both environmental and economic sense. Although they incur an additional cost to separately collect the food waste, that cost is counterbalanced by a reduction in their waste disposal costs. When large volumes of food waste are removed from the business' general waste, there is an opportunity to reduce disposal costs by reducing the number of dumpsters and/or the pickup frequency. This also reduces weight, which is another measure by which businesses are charged for waste disposal.

It's the Law

Effective January 1, 1997, Chapter 9, Section 9-3.5 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu requires large hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, food courts and food manufacturers and processors to recycle food waste.

What You Can Recycle

  • Vegetable and Fruit Waste
  • Eggs
  • Meat and Fish Waste
  • Dairy Waste
  • Bakery Waste
  • Noodles
  • Rice
  • Cooking Oil

What You Can't Recycle (as Food Waste)

  • Plastic
  • Plastic Bags
  • Metal
  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Cardboard
  • Large amounts of paper
  • Landscape Clippings

Assess Your Recycling Potential

Conducting a waste audit is the first step in creating a waste reduction and recycling program. A waste audit will tell you what types of waste you generate and in what quantities, allowing you to target specific materials for waste reduction and recycling.

Conduct a walk-through investigation of your facility's waste receptacles. Look into work area trash cans and into the facility's central dumpsters. The amount of food waste generated by your business will be determined by your type of business, number of customers, number of employees and existing resource-efficient operating practices. Studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on waste composition by generator type provide the following food waste estimates:

Food Waste Generation (Percent of Total Waste)

  • Restaurants: 40%
  • Hotels: 20%
  • Food Stores: 18%
  • Hospitals: 8-18%

How to Recycle

Determine what types of food waste your recycling program should collect

Your business should recycle all types of food waste if the City's food waste recycling ordinance affects you. If this is a voluntary effort, your choices of what portion of your food waste to recycle may depend upon your company's commitment to community service, the economic benefit and the availability of recycling service.

You can contract directly with the recyclers or food waste collectors. Most recyclers, such as pig farmers, as well as the collectors, will charge a fee for the collection service. The Hawaii Food Bank and Aloha Harvest will pick up quality leftover food at no charge.

Donation/Recovery/Processing Resources

Quality Edibles

Additionally, consider donating your leftover or excess food to a food pantry. Ample Harvest and provide listings of food pantries throughout Oahu. Food pantries receive, sort and package donated foodstuffs for distribution directly to those in need. Food pantries have varying and/or limited storage capacities for food donations, so please contact the pantries in your area first to determine which can use your donations.

Meat, Seafood, Cooking Oil

Produce and Food Scraps

  • EcoFeed

For collector and pig farmer information contact:
University of Hawaii, Swine Extension Specialist (956-7594)
City & County of Honolulu, Recycling Office (768-3200)

Providing this information does not constitute endorsement of these businesses. Also, this information may not be all inclusive. Companies offering services may contact the City Recycling Office to be listed.

© 2005 City & County of Honolulu's Department of Environmental Services.