Make dirt, not waste: local restaurants start composting


Trying to eat a sustainable diet? One big reason the whole Eating Locally trend has caught on is that a lot of environmentally conscious consumers have started thinking about their carbon footprint. Now a group of Minneapolis restaurants has taken the next big step – composting kitchen wastes to cut down on landfill.

Restaurants produce a lot of trash, and most of it winds up in landfills, where they produce methane, which contributes to global warming. Composting, by contrast, turns the waste into nutrient-rich soil.

Making dirt makes sense
by Phyllis Stenerson, Uptown Neighborhood News
Food not used or eaten at three innovative Uptown restaurants isn’t dumped into a landfill anymore. At Barbette’s, Bryant Lake Bowl and Common Ground food scraps are composted and transformed into dirt that nourishes more growing food.MORE

At a press conference Monday morning at the Wedge co-op, mayor RT Rybak joined Susan Hubbard of Eureka Recycling, and owners of the five restaurants that participated in a pilot composting project: Danny Schwartzman of Common Roots, Tracy Singleton of the Birchwood Café, and Kim Bartmann, who owns Barbette, the Red Stag Supper Club and Bryant Lake Bowl. “It’s easy to think about where the food comes from,” said Schwartzman. “It’s easier to forget about where the food goes.”

Since the launch of the program, five other local food businesses have joined the project, including the Fireroast Mountain Café, Sen Yai Sen Lek, Gluek’s Restaurant and Bar, Brasa, and Chowgirls Killer Catering. For links and details, check out

According to Susan Hubbard, CEO of Eureka Recycling, the participating restaurants are now recycling or composting over 90 percent of their kitchen waste. The compostable wastes are collected from the restaurants by truck, and processed by commercial composting facilities. It’s a little different from backyard composting – city ordinances prohibit backyard composting of meat products, but the commercial composting operations are able to handle meat leftovers, as well as a variety of paper products that cannot be recycled.

A pilot project in the Linden Hills neighborhood offers curbside pickup of compostable wastes – check out the website of Linden Hills Power and Light for details.