“We love your food but the composting makes us come more often
Taco Time’s first foray into recycling and composting several years ago was, in a word, “horrible”. Guests stood before newly installed separating bins and looked down at their tray jumbled with food scraps, condiment packets, napkins, cutlery and cups. In the end, most just dumped everything in the “garbage” bin and hurried out the door. Cedar Grove worked in close partnership with Taco Time to provide simple and revenue neutral solutions.
Taco Time, based in Renton, has always celebrated its local roots and freshly sourced foods. But as the 73 restaurant Puget Sound chain reached its 50th anniversary as a 4th generation family-run company, it seemed especially timely to expand local sourcing and introduce more earth-friendly practices in their restaurants. Lessons learned from that first well-intentioned pilot project prompted problem-solving conversations with Cedar Grove.
Compostable packaging immediately made sorting easy. Simplicity and clear signage suddenly made things quick and easy for guests. Employees jumped in, eager to help and proud to make a difference.
In a company with 35 corporate owned restaurants and 38 franchises, there’s bound to be skepticism. People want to do the right thing but worry if they can afford it. The proof was in the hauling bills. The decline in garbage and pick up costs made the “green’ improvements mostly revenue neutral.
Cedar Grove “bent over backwards” to do even more; extending pickup routes so more Taco Time restaurants could participate. In areas without service, Cedar Grove reached out to other haulers to provide coverage. More than 70% of the restaurants now offer compost stations that are guest friendly and waste reducing. Taco Time gets frequent feedback from guests who appreciate that all the food and packaging is compostable so sorting is not required and the whole process is quick and simple. Many guests are also Cedar Grove customers too and realize the food and compostables they recycle today will come back to them as soil building compost.
The results have convinced many of the skeptics at the company. But the progressive steps taken by the two companies in partnership should not be a surprise. Both are long time, locally owned businesses that thrive on innovation and environmentally friendly solutions.
So take a moment next time you stop at Taco Time to take note of an efficient solution to a significant problem.