Golden Gate Bread Company is showing restaurants throughout the country that a 75% recycling rate is possible.

The Panera Bread at 301 King Street in San Francisco implemented a recycling program last fall that diverts 75% of their waste from California landfills. King Street Panera Bread's recycling program falls in line with the San Francisco Commission on Environment's goal for Zero Waste.

"When the store opened in April of 2007, we started out by just recycling and composting the waste from the kitchen, but our garbage bill was still around $3,500.00 per month," says Erin Luikart, the General Manager for the King Street Panera Bread. "We implemented lobby recycling in the Winter of 2009 so our customers could sort their food waste and recycle items such as plastic cups. That brought our monthly expenses for waste removal down to about $2,800.00 per month."

Last Fall, head of environmental sustainability for Panera Bread Mike Thies recommended that the King Street Panera Bread purchase an indoor trash compactor through Global Trash Solutions, a waste consulting company out of Palm Beach, Florida. "The trash compactor had the most dramatic effect on our monthly expenses. We were able to reduce our volume of trash and recyclables by more than half, and reduce our monthly spending on waste removal by more than $1,000.00 per month," says Luikart.

Panera Bread's program has inspired change at other locations in parts of the country where comprehensive recycling programs are available including Gig Harbor, WA, Federal Way, WA, Davis, CA, and the newly opened restaurants in New York City.