Lizzie Saxe, Forbes Magazine
When Ray Hatch became the CEO of Quest, a waste management and sustainability firm, he knew that finding new ways for restaurants and grocery stores reduce their food waste on large scale was a lofty but potentially game-changing goal. Hatch had worked in food distribution for the previous twenty years, and “spent all my time with restaurant operators… so I understand their challenges. Foodservice operators all should be nominated for a hall of fame because the business model is one-third labor, one-third overhead, and one-third food costs, which basically leaves you nothing… Shrink is a killer, so spoilage, pilferage, bad portioning, [these things can have a great impact on a food business].”
Say that you run a chain of grocery stores, and one store is more profitable than another despite being nearly identical. How do you account for that difference? For plenty of businesses, the answer seems to be to hire Quest.
Quest works with everyone from food businesses to cannabis dispensaries, construction companies and even the automotive industry to reduce carbon footprints while saving its clients money. The company properly disposes of everything from motor oil (it recycled millions of gallons of it in 2018) to compost. According to Hatch, the company fills an increasingly complicated gap between governments and business owners: “Governments are telling businesses what they can’t put in the landfill, which is great because obviously, we want less material going into landfills, but many times they don’t tell them what they can do, and that’s where we come in… So the first thing we do is find a customer, let’s say they have 500 restaurants and want to increase sustainability. Well, we help you do that by drawing up a sustainability plan with your goals in mind and your business in mind. We do waste audits at that point to identify what’s being thrown away in the compactor, and typically what we find is that what people think is being thrown away versus recycled is not the same thing.” Not just that, but Quest will even save you money by making sure that the materials that can be reused, things like cardboard, plastic and used cooking oil are sold to people who can use them.
Sending a bunch of food to landfills every week? Quest will make sure it gets composted or turned into animal feed. By making sure that businesses are simultaneously saving money and saving the planet, Hatch’s company is helping people, “move sustainability upstream. It goes all the way back to, ‘I don’t want to throw away my foam cup.’ Well, here’s the problem, the foam cup, by and large, isn’t recyclable anyway.” So instead of focusing on foam cups, Quest provides its clients with waste tracking tools that let them see what’s being thrown away, what’s ending up in a landfill, what’s being turned into compost and plenty of other useful, actionable insights on their trash.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.com