Food Waste Recycling

Hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, food courts, food manufacturers/processors and hospitals meeting specific size criteria are required to recycle food waste.

This section provides useful information to help these organizations meet their recycling requirements.

It Works

For businesses that generate large volumes of food waste, recycling works. Hard Rock Cafe. Foodland. Sheraton Hotels. Hilton Hawaiian Village. They’re just a few of the corporations that have discovered the advantages of food waste recycling. Large companies that generate large volumes of food waste have been able to derive economic benefit from recycling. Although they incur an additional cost to separately collect the food waste, that cost is counter-balanced 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 Good for the Environment

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

It's the Law

Effective January 1, 1997, City Ordinance 96-20 requires large hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, food courts and food manufacturers and processors to recycle food waste.

What You Can Recycle

  • Starches (including bread, dough, noodles and rice)
  • Dairy & Bakery Wastes
  • Egg Shells
  • Cooking Oil
  • Vegetable and Fruit Wastes (including pineapple tops and "boats," watermelon rinds, onions and potatoes)
  • Juice and Beverages
  • Beer
  • Cider
  • Full Milk Cartons
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Tea Bags
  • Meat and Fish Waste (including inedible meat scraps, bones, poultry, crab and clam shells)
  • Deli Waste
  • Starches (noodles, rice)

What You Can't Recycle (as Food Waste)

  • Plastic
  • Plastic Bag Liners
  • Metal
  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Tree and Grass Clippings

Assess Your Recycling Potential

A waste audit is the first step in setting up your waste reduction and recycling program. It tells you what types of waste you generate and in what quantities, allowing you to target specific materials for recycling and waste reduction.

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, economic benefit and 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.

Food Waste Recyclers

Quality Edibles

Aloha Harvest

Hawaii Food Bank

Meat, Seafood, Cooking Oil

Island Commodities

Pacific Pure Technologies

Pacific Biodiesel

Produce and Food Scraps

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.