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Did You Know? RSM Restaurants "Reuse" Food
by: Debbie L. Sklar
The program expects to recycle 20 tons of food every week.
The program expects to recycle 20 tons of food every week.

Did you know that at the start of this month, Rancho Santa Margarita and eight other O.C. cities jumped on the recycle food waste bandwagon?

Thanks to a 1-year, $400,000 grant from the County of Orange Waste & Recycling Department, food waste is being collected from five local businesses, and hauled away for recycling to a composting facility.

The intent of the pilot program is to set up the equipment and procedural infrastructure for possible expansion to additional businesses next year, when landfill disposal fees for regular trash in Orange County will increase by 32 percent, according to the City of RSM.

And did you know that a restaurant, on average, gets rid of more than 50 tons of organic waste every year? Or did you know Californians overall throw away more than 5 million tons of food scraps each year?

Now, every city in California is required to divert at least 50 percent of all of its waste away from landfills, due to space constraints. By participating in the food waste recycling program, local businesses are hoping to reduce their trash disposal costs, while helping the City maintain compliance with its recycling goals. The pilot program is expected to recycle up to 20 tons of food waste every week.

Restaurants in Rancho Santa Margarita that have jumped in the mix include El Torito Grill, Canyon Fireside Grill, TGI Friday’s, Finbar’s Italian Kitchen, and Wood Ranch BBQ.

Each business is provided with indoor and outdoor collection containers, employee training assistance, and food waste pick-up service three times a week by the City’s waste and recycling hauler, CR&R Inc. The RSM website reports that tonnage collected will be posted monthly under the Recycling page on the City’s web site at

Debbie L. Sklar is a 20+year journalism veteran residing in Southern California, where she is a writer, columnist and editor for many local, regional and national publications. Sklar may be reached via e-mail at

What do you think? Leave your comment here.

Comment by Linda 4/13/2010 9:26:00 PM

Ironically, while we throw away literally tons of food, the Orange County Rescue Mission is in danger of running out of food for the thousands of hungry it serves. It is heartbreaking.

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