When we sit down to dinner at our favorite restaurant or cook at meal at home, we inevitably generate food waste. It might be the leaves we’ve peeled off cauliflower or the rind of a melon. Eggs shells or the bones from a cut of meat. Or extra cooked food we can’t quite finish. When Joe Austreng, the manager of Horse & Plow, considered that waste, he saw an opportunity.
In late 2019, Austreng launched the Red Bucket Program to divert food waste from landfills. Using simple red buckets, the program collects scraps and leftovers from restaurants and events throughout Destination Kohler, digests them, and then transforms them into fertilizer and methane, which is used for energy.
For busy chefs and kitchen staff, making the process easy was essential. It had to fit into their existing workflow, and the directions had to be clear. So Austreng and team started with more traditional compostable items. And once they’d proven the program could work for everyone, they ramped up to capturing all food waste.
Since the program began, it has diverted nearly 160,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill – and that number was certainly skewed by the effects of the pandemic, which led to far less dining out than usual. As restaurants become busy once again, Kohler Co. expects the program’s impact to be even greater.
“We make it far too easy to throw things away,” Austreng says of our society. “Here, Kohler can set an example.”