Identifies Success Factors to Increase Capture of Food Scraps and Packaging in Front of House composting programs

The Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), and several partners, have released the CompostAble Chicago Study report, which evaluated how the operating conditions within venues that are utilizing compostable foodservice items are expected to contribute to success for consumer-facing, front of house (FOH) composting programs.

The study evaluated four foodservice venues in the Chicago area — a full-service restaurant, a museum quick-serve café, a school cafeteria and a university quick-serve café — collecting data on both venue operating conditions and waste streams.

Chicago-based Bright Beat researched and secured involvement of the four venues that would participate in the study. RRS designed the venue evaluation framework and the waste characterization methodology, and also led the waste sorts that quantified components of all waste streams including the amount of food scraps and material types across thirty-five other categories.

RRS compared each venue’s operations and best practices for FOH composting with the use of compostables, and quantitatively evaluated the links between the way compostable foodservice items are implemented, and how effectively food scraps are captured, as well as how successfully contamination is mitigated.

The study’s findings suggest venues that adopt compostable foodservice packaging, under favorable operating conditions, should be expected to collect more food scraps in FOH compost streams. In addition, contamination levels were also seen to trend lower with stronger adoption of compostable items.

In addition to researching the relationship of compostable foodservice packaging and food scrap recovery, RRS also developed a Guide Methodology for those seeking to emulate the study approach to contribute to the collection of sufficient data, over time, to establish a statistically robust correlation between adoption of compostable foodservice packaging and FOH food capture for composting. The published materials include the project report, guide methodology, and spreadsheet template for collecting venue waste characterization data.

Other study sponsors included the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), Eco-Products, the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC), the Plant Based Products Council (PBPC), and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC).

To download the full CompostAble Chicago report and accompanying methodology guide on FPI’s foodservice packaging recovery website, visit: