Dumpster Diving To Find Waste Savings & Environmental Benefits

Indigo Teiwes

Why you ask, would I spend the day sorting through the trash of a Carl’s Jr restaurant? It’s not as crazy as it sounds – it is enabling our client, CKE Restaurants, to see more, save more and sustain more, and is a key component of Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s restaurants Going Green program, which encompass efforts to improve resource efficiency, save money and improve environmental performance.


Essentially, by sorting through the trash (formally described as a “waste characterization study”), Carl’s Jr will have more visibility into its waste stream, which enables us to help Carl’s Jr identify opportunities to divert waste to lower cost material streams (such as recycling and composting), and generate waste management cost savings that can be sustained over the long run. This also provides environmental benefits by keeping more waste from needing to be sent to a landfill.

When we were done with the sort, the “eyeball test” showed that at least two-thirds of the waste could be put to better use than being sent to a landfill. Food waste and paper soiled food can be composted and turned into a soil amendment, and the recyclable waste streams (cardboard, plastic, steel, aluminum and paper) can be turned into new packaging products, saving energy and materials. Of course, now that the “dirty work” is done, we have weights and volumes of different materials to analyze, as well as the economic analysis of the costs and savings. But that’s tomorrow’s work. For now, I’ll sleep well knowing we can help Carl’s Jr get dollars and environmental benefits out of its trash!

KHQ News, an NBC affiliate located in Spokane, WA stopped by to film as the waste audit took place. Watch the video.

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