Saturday, February 19, 2011

Restaurants that rock because they rot!

The city of Hopkins wants to expand organics recycling in restaurants and businesses, so four of us (2 city of Hopkins folks and 2 Hennepin Co. waste-reduction and recycling folks) toured two restaurants in Minneapolis that collect organics for composting to check out their set-ups. Pete of Galactic Pizza in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood and Dave of Gluek's downtown were kind enough to show us around and answer questions. Both said organics recycling is definitely worth the (little extra) effort and (little extra) cost.

These bins are called Slim Jims. Pete says it takes 3 days to fill the trash bin, and a couple of years ago the restaurant started collecting plastic bags and wrap through the It's In The Bag program, reducing their waste even further. Because taking care of the planet is one of their core principles, Galactic isn't new to organics recycling, having started about 7 years ago. Galactic first utilized food-to-hogs but later switched to organics recycling with Randy's Environmental Services in 2006 or 2007 because a lot more material (food-soiled paper and meat and bones) is accepted for composting.

Their trash bin
Organics bin, which you can almost always tell because the compostable bags are a pale green color.

All their to-go ware is compostable with the exception of the soup lid on the right that Pete is holding. Pete says the first thing they do with new employees is train them how to recycle and compost. Galactic also uses electric cars for delivering their pizzas. Another unique feature is their use of their pizza boxes as coupons. Bring two boxes in and get $2 off your next pizza. Over a Friday/Saturday/Sunday, customers return about 100-200 boxes, which then get composted.

And at the back of the house ... look at how LITTLE this trash dumpster is! And it only gets picked up once every two weeks!
Compare the trash dumpster with the organics and cardboard/paper dumpsters. I know it's hard to see the perspective, but trust me, these dumpsters are double or triple the size of the trash dumpster. Organics and recycling dumpsters get serviced weekly.

Gluek's in downtown Minneapolis is in its 78th year of business. They've been composting for 2 1/2 to 3 years as part of Eureka Recycling's Make Dirt Not Waste program. They've got composting and recycling bins on either end of the bar by the bussing stations.

Food left on plates gets dumped into this organics bin before dishes are washed.

In the kitchen the organics (green liner) bin is paired with the trash (black liner) bin, and the placement of the organics bin is convenient for food prep. Gluek's goes through 8 to 10 compostable bags a day.

Gluek's also uses compostable to-go ware. Their recyclables (lots of glass bottles, naturally) and organics get picked up once a week (bi-weekly in the summer) while their trash is serviced twice a week because they share with a neighbor.

Twenty-six other restaurants and stores have partnered with Eureka Recycling to "make dirt not waste" by collecting organics at their establishments. I wrote about this last year.

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