University of Delaware
delware environmental institute

Delaware First Media: Recycling program aims to make the most of what restaurants throw away

What’s left on plates at some Rehoboth area restaurants is finding new life, helping grow food that could wind up on that very same plate.

State officials Monday touted the initial efforts of REPLENISH, a recycling project developed by Delmarva Wellnet Foundation’s EDEN Delmarva program. REPLENISH takes restaurant food waste ranging from fruits and vegetables to coffee grinds and filters, as well as other compostable materials, and turns them into nutrient-rich compost. That compost, produced by Blue Hen Organics, is then made available to area farmers who sell their produce to the area restaurants.

Since launching in 2011, REPLENISH has kept over 500 tons of organic materials out of landfills while producing 200 tons of compost.
Delaware’s Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee says that makes a difference in a variety of ways.

“It’s a good complete circle. Produce comes in from Delaware farms and is consumed. The resulting waste is then recycled and composted into something useful back on the farms. Compost can do a lot to build the fertility and the soil health of our farming fields,” said Kee. “And by not sending [the watse] to landfills it is expanding capacity at landfills.”