By John Schaffner

Restaurants seeking approval for alcoholic beverage licenses from the Safety Committee of Neighborhood Planning Unit B likely will get a lecture on participation in the Zero Waste Zone program to recycle garbage, food scraps and cooking oils in Buckhead.

The Zero Waste Zone program was started in Atlanta in February 2009 and introduced to 62 members of the Buckhead restaurant community at a May event at Atlanta Fish Market through efforts coordinated by the Buckhead Coalition.

Zero Waste Zone is the brainchild of Holly Elmore, founder and CEO of Elemental Impact, formerly known as the Green Foodservice Alliance. Atlanta was the first city in the Southeast and one of the first in the nation to institute the Zero Waste Zone program.

Restaurants pledge to recycle, reuse spent grease for the local production of biofuels, and compost or donate leftover food.

Garth Peters, director of Community Development for the Buckhead Coalition, is a member of both the NPU-B board and the board’s Safety Committee, which hears and votes on all the alcoholic beverage license and special-events license applications.

During the liquor license application for Flip Burger Boutique restaurant, to open in October in the Tuxedo Shopping Center at 3655 Roswell Road, Peters asked if the restaurant planned to participate in the Zero Waste Zone program.

The applicant said he didn’t know anything about the program.

Having the door opened to educate those attending the meeting — both applicants and committee members — Peters explained the program is a partnership with local restaurants to divert tons of garbage, food scraps and cooking oils from landfills.

Peters suggested that applicants seeking approval from the committee in the future likely will be asked — by him, if no one else — if they plan to participate in the program. Peters will be ready to explain Zero Waste to them and present them with a program leaflet.

Participation is not a requirement for getting the liquor license, Peters said, but he plans to ask the question of applicants, just as the committee asks if the applicant has had any previous liquor violations and what program they use to train servers in their restaurants and bars.

“One of the things we are trying to do is use civic consciousness to attempt to create a more ‘green Buckhead’,” Peters said. “Just be a good citizen.”