Pennsylvania restaurant finds creative local composting solutions
Long-time gardener and recently retired Chick-fil-A Team Member Sue Burd is passionate about decreasing her footprint on the planet.
That’s why, even though the local restaurant’s community of East York, Pennsylvania doesn’t have a municipal composting program, she knew something could be done.
“I knew of Sue’s passion for the environment, so when I learned about other Operators that were composting, I asked her to help us do the same,” said Cathy Dallas, Operator of Chick-fil-A East York in York, Pennsylvania. “The only requirements I had were for a solution that was simple and affordable. Sue delivered on both.”
Using surplus food
Worldwide, one-third of food produced is thrown away uneaten1. When Chick-fil-A restaurants have edible surplus food, more than 1,500 restaurants, including Cathy’s, donate it to help feed people in need through the Chick-fil-A Shared Table® program.
Together, these restaurants have provided more than 18 million meals to those in need since 2012. But because not all surplus food is edible, Chick-fil-A Operators across the country also embrace the benefits of composting. Doing so removes food waste from landfills, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and often lowers trash removal costs.
Sue began by looking for local community composting services, but when none were available, she devised her own creative solution. Team Members at Chick-fil-A East York deposit food scraps into empty, five-gallon pickle buckets. When full, the buckets are emptied into dedicated and isolated 44-gallon trash cans with a lid. A couple times per week, these trash cans are picked up by a local farmer who uses the food scraps for composting. It typically takes about six months to a year for the Chick-fil-A food scraps to transform into compost that can be added to soil to improve its nutrient health.
Driving toward zero waste
“Our team is driving toward zero food waste and believes that everything can serve a purpose. Composting certainly proves this point,” said Cathy. “Sue and I are so pleased to see our team embrace this opportunity to do more for our local community.”
To support Chick-fil-A’s corporate social responsibility goal to divert more than 25 million pounds of restaurant food waste from landfills by 2025 and to help more Operators get involved in composting efforts, Chick-fil-A, Inc.’s Dawn Rhodes leads food waste programming. She says composting is gradually increasing in local municipalities and, in some markets, more than 50% of local Operators are helping keep food waste out of landfills by composting.
Operator Shawn Filby of Chick-fil-A Exeter in Pennsylvania found an especially good use for food waste from his restaurant. He uses it to fertilize the flower beds that surround his restaurant. In Dallas, Operator Vanessa Bales partners with local organization, Cowboy Compost, to turn her restaurant’s food scraps into compost, which she then shares with Team Members and interested customers.
Through composting and other ways of reducing food waste, Chick-fil-A continues to live out its commitment to care for our planet. To learn more about this and other CSR efforts, visit our Giving Back page.