AsilomarAbout Asilomar Conference Grounds:

Asilomar Conference Grounds is a lodging and conference center operation that is located on 114 acres of California State Parks land. Asilomar has an average of 139,913 guests per year (2,690 per week). The property is home to 52 buildings, 312 guest rooms, and 22 conference rooms. The historic Crocker Dining Hall provides breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as service to guests and conference attendees through an interactive culinary experience. Asilomar serves approximately 380,000 meals annually (7,307 per week).

I. Program challenges:

At the start of the program kitchen staff was not properly sorting out food scrap/compostable materials before disposal. Instead, non-compostable items, such as wire bread ties, were mixed in with the food scraps. These ingrained practices were contaminating a “clean” food scrap stream.

II. Overcoming challenges:

The solution was communication with employees. Asilomar conducted training sessions on properly managing and disposing of food scraps. Additionally, signage for compostable items was posted in the kitchen, and a litter picker is used to sort through the compost dumpster on a daily basis (for removal of contaminants). Training is currently done on an as-needed basis and to serve as a refresher.

Asilomar also held a speaker series dedicated to this particular topic. All Asilomar employees (not just kitchen staff) were invited to learn about the Organics to Energy process in a 40 minute seminar. This empowered employees to take the rights steps to avoid contamination when disposing of food scraps.

III. Increases in waste diversion (the approximate values): 

Monthly Food Scraps:             

2 dumpster pickups per week X 2,886 lbs = 5,772 lbs. per week

Monthly food scrap pickups = 23,088 lbs per month

23,088 lbs of food scraps / 2,000 = 11.5 tons per month

Annual Food Scraps:           

23,088 lbs X 12 months = 276,056 lbs per year = 138 tons per year


Diversion Rate for FY 13

Food Scraps, Recycling and Donations combined = 676,161 lbs

Trash = 312,400 lbs.

Diversion Rate = 68%. AB 341 mandates that commercial properties of a certain size have a recycling program in place, and it sets a diversion goal of 75 percent by 2020. Asilomar is already well on its way to meeting this goal thanks to a robust food scrap diversion program.

*** Without its composting program, Asilomar would divert 400,105 lbs per year and its diversion rate would be 40% (diverted material/total waste). 

IV. Effect on costs:

Asilomar did pay a startup cost for implementing its program. There are also continued costs for compostable product purchasing and food scrap removal (see below).

Startup (i.e. waste bins and signage):

  • Training   $17.00 (2 hr) X  27 employees = $918.00
  • Equipment
    • 14 green slim containers for kitchens = $1,050.00
    • Shovel = $45.00
    • Trash picker = $60.00
    • Signage = $50.00

Compostable Products (i.e. Eco-Products disposables): Compostable service ware products are approximately triple the price of Styrofoam or paper alternatives.

Service Ware Products

  • Asilomar chooses to use certified compostable service ware products such as cutlery, cups and plates to enhance its waste diversion program. These “certified compostable” items are accepted along with food scraps. Compostable service ware does, however, increase expenditures.
  • Example:
ITEM STATUS QTY (cases; 1,000 cups/case) COST ($)
24 oz. cold cup Compostable 6 821.70
24 oz. cold cup Non-Compostable 6 573.56


Labor: Between 1.5 to 2.0% increase as a result of composting, or an extra $0.25 per hour. The executive chef feels this is relatively insignificant when you consider the environmental costs of landfilling food waste.

Food Scrap Removal: Removal fees for food scraps are greater than regular trash pickup fees. The price per yard for trash pickup is approximately $65 per yard and for food scraps approximately $111 per yard. On average, Asilomar spends roughly $4,300 per month on trash, recycling and green waste processing and $900 per month on food scrap diversion. If these eight yards of food scraps were processed as trash, Asilomar would spend approximately $379 less per month on disposal fees. Trash pickup fees are 58 percent as high as food scrap pickup fees.

V. Other company benefits:

ISO 14001 Certification:

In order for Asilomar to maintain its prestigious ISO 14001 certification, the property is required to develop annual environmental Objectives and Targets. Increasing Waste Diversion Rate is always one of its annual objectives and therefore a high priority. Without the ability to compost its food scraps, the company would not be able to achieve a diversion rate high enough to achieve its goals.

California Green Lodging

This program emphasizes Asilomar’s commitment to reducing waste, and saving energy, water and California’s other valuable resources through environmentally friendly practices in the hospitality industry.

Environmental Responsibility

Having the ability to divert such a significant amount of waste from the landfill is the environmentally responsible thing to do and outweighs any costs associated with the program, according to Asilomar’s Environmental Sustainability Coordinator.