When Lee Stylos, owner of Chilkoot Café, opened his business in 2011, he envisioned a zero-waste operation.
They were well on their way, with a robust single-stream recycling program and compostable to-go containers, cups and cutlery. The one piece of the puzzle they were missing was a good option for managing their food waste and other compostable material. They reached out to the Recycling Experts at BizRecycling for help.
How We Helped
Because of Chilkoot’s location in Stillwater, finding organics recycling options was a challenge.
Our Recycling Expert visited the café and connected them with Sanimax, a company that offers a number of food waste recycling options, including grease recycling and commercial composting.
By the end of the year, Chilkoot had implemented a full-scale commercial composting program through Sanimax.
At the time, Chilkoot’s zero-waste operation was the first of its kind in Stillwater. Their commercial composting service allowed them to collect all of their food waste, food-soiled and non-recyclable paper, waxed cardboard, and compostable plastics.
There were some complications in getting started. One barrier was the high cost of compostable bags. Another problem was getting their waste hauler to reduce the frequency of trash pick-ups once the café was producing less waste.
Hard work and determination paid off for Chilkoot. Stylos worked with their hauler to reduce trash pick-ups, and plans to switch their trash billing to weight-based, rather than a flat fee. They were also able to find a less expensive source for the compostable bags.
Now, their organics recycling program is diverting almost 21,000 pounds of trash and turning it into high-quality compost every year. Stylos’s vision doesn’t end with the composting program; he plans to expand the program and allow other businesses to drop off their organic waste for composting as well. Stylos is also advocating for the City of Stillwater to offer curbside composting pick-up for all residents and build the type of community they aspire to live in.
Stylos’s advice to other business owners who are interested in starting a commercial composting program is, “Don’t go into it expecting it to be instantaneous. It will work, but it may take some time.”