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Five-gallon compost bin in the commissary kitchen.
Five-gallon food scrap bucket in the kitchen.

How is Brattleboro Food Co-op set up?

We have a food waste policy about how to handle product that cannot be sold at full price (or sold at all). The following steps are to be taken (in this order):

  • Return it for credit if possible
  • Sell it at a discounted price if possible
  • Repurpose it in our commissary kitchen
  • Donate it to a food pantry 
  • Give it to staff
  • Compost it

How did you start separating food scraps from the trash?

We have been at this since well before it became legally mandated! Some years ago, we developed relationships with local livestock farmers and arranged for them to come pick up scraps to be fed to their pigs. In more recent years, with the availability of commercial composting, we have worked with a local hauler. 

A man chopping the tops off celery into a large food scrap collection container that looks like a standard round garbage can.
Collecting produce department scraps.

How do you collect food scraps? 

We keep 5-gallon buckets in convenient spots throughout our store – in our commissary kitchen, behind the deli line, in the back room of our produce department, and behind our cheese counter. These are emptied into a small dumpster which is picked up periodically by a hauler who takes it to a commercial composting facility. 

Our meat and seafood department uses a larger barrel, and its contents end up being rendered. 

Our Café and staff break rooms have receptacles for compostable items (food + certain paper goods + compostable utensils) as well.

What is working well in your food scrap management system?

Our food scraps are being diverted from the landfill – overall, it is working. Cross contamination, particularly in receptacles accessible to the public (such as in our Café) can be a concern.

Have you gotten feedback from staff?

Staff have mentioned that compostable trash bags (for the public areas) are not always up to the job – they are not as strong as they could be. And on a hot summer day, the compost dumpster has a righteous ripeness to it!


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