Wayside Restaurant Turns Food Scraps Into Compost

By Nat Frothingham


BERLIN — “Yesterday’s broccoli, egg shells and cheese are becoming compost as you read this,” proclaims a notice at each table at the Wayside Restaurant on the Barre-Montpelier Road.

Brian Zecchinelli, co-owner of the Wayside, recently told The Bridge, “the Wayside Restaurant is composting its kitchen waste.” Zecchinelli said that when composting was first suggested he thought it might be “cumbersome.” But since he went forward with composting he now sees it as “really quite easy.” All 70 of his restaurant employees are participating. Said Zecchinelli, “When the table is cleared the napkin, placemat and straw are separated from the food scraps.” The food scraps are put into a big bucket.

About 1,000 other businesses are composting participants. Such local outfits include Price Chopper, Norwich University and Central Vermont Medical Center. Julio’s and Positive Pie restaurants in Montpelier have also adopted composting. A recent press conference at the Wayside included a range of people who are promoting composting:  Karl Hammer of Vermont Composting; Chrissy Bellmyer, the school program manager at the Central Vermont Solid Waste District; and John Kelly at the Waste Management & Prevention Division of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

The composting effort is part of an overall universal recycling law that will ban food scraps from landfills by July 1, 2020. The problem with food scraps in landfills is that when food rots it produces harmful methane gas. The message is clear:  “Better to collect and compost those food scraps instead of dumping them into a landfill.”

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