Talking Trash

Proactively coordinate handling all types of F&B waste.


The processing of food products within your facility generates waste in many forms. These waste products are contaminated in varying degrees with bacteria, viruses, and chemicals and need to be considered hazardous.

Even if your trash is handled by another department, you should proactively coordinate the handling of all trash within your F&B areas. Consider some of these points:

  • Have trash receptacles of the appropriate size within easy reach of your staff to minimize the carrying of waste to the receptacle. The farther they need to move it, the more time we waste and the more opportunity we create to contaminate something else with that waste.
  • Keep your trash cans reasonably sized for the load that will be placed in them. Wet waste from your produce and meat processing operations or your dish washing area is heavier than dry paper waste. Smaller cans are the better choice in these locations. Smaller cans need to get emptied more often, and that is best when the waste is potentially highly contaminated. The more hazardous the waste being generated, the more often you want to get the waste out of the building.
  • If you must use high-volume trash receptacles, put them on dollies to ease transport and minimize torn or ripped bags which leak and add to the contamination within the production facility. Swap out cans and dollies to keep a trash can in the proper place at all times if needed.
  • If you pull full bags from receptacles and place those in rolling trash carts, dumpsters that are emptied in trash compactors, and bulk dumpsters keep those carts clean and sanitized. Any rolling carts or dollies that make the round trip to the bulk trash area outside and back into your storage or production areas should be cleaned and sanitized regularly to keep the hazards in and on the carts to low levels.
  • It is best to assign carts and dollies for trash and waste only. Clearly label all units for their intended purpose.
  • Front-of-the-house receptacles that are in guest areas should be kept clean and sanitized. If you use receptacles with swinging doors and/or fixed openings, have your FOH staff clean and sanitize these areas often but not with the same cleaning and sanitizing cloths used for tables and other service areas.
  • Trash cans should be left clean and sanitized at the end of the day. Large operations will have a trash can washing unit that treats the cans like guest dishes or at minimum have an area to manually wash and rinse the cans. Make sure you spray the cans with sanitizer on all surfaces and let the sanitizer air-dry to get the best bacterial kill. Bacterial build up creates that sour/dirty smell we so often associate with trash cans and dirty operations.

Norm FaiolaNorm Faiola, PhD, MPS, is the White Lodging Professor in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana. He can be reached at