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Challenge

Many small businesses and restaurants call Downtown White Bear Lake home. Space for collecting trash is limited, and the sidewalks get cluttered with trash containers for each business.

Tyler Conrad, owner of the Goodthings shop in Washington Square, wanted to change that. Conrad reached out to surrounding businesses on the block to discuss sharing waste services and adding single-sort recycling and organics recycling services. Ten businesses decided to join together to share waste services. Planning for this consolidation project began in 2013.

How We Helped

BizRecycling sent Recycling Experts to visit all of the interested businesses. They collected information about the unique waste streams of each business. The Recycling Experts found that the participating businesses would be able to recycle or compost most of their waste. They estimated the amounts of trash, recycling and organics the businesses would generate. They then requested service proposals from haulers. The chosen hauler worked with White Bear Lake city staff and a local architect to help design a dumpster enclosure for the businesses to share. The cost of construction was covered by a Ramsey County Public Entity Innovation Grant.

In late 2015, the Recycling Experts helped each business apply for a BizRecycling Grant. We awarded a total of eight grants, totaling $31,400. The funds were used to purchase needed color-coded bins, signs, compostable bags for the organics recycling, and equipment to transport waste and recycling to the new enclosure. Education on recycling and organics was also given to staff at the participating businesses. The businesses involved in this innovative project are:

Outcome

The years of planning and hard work have paid off. In the first year of the program, the participating businesses collected over 75,000 pounds of organics for recycling. They also increased their single-sort recycling collection by over 30%. They have an impressive combined recycling rate of 64.9%.

By consolidating waste services, the businesses also gained space and beautified downtown White Bear Lake. One restaurant was able to add outdoor seating where their dumpster once stood. The businesses are also saving a collective $4,416 per year in waste service costs.

Each business has enjoyed the benefits of this project. For Tyler Conrad, getting the sidewalk cleaned up was his ultimate goal. He says, “The best part is, it’s one truck in and out, not six pulling up to separate dumpsters.”

John Lupo, owner at Grandma’s Bakery, told us, “Working with BizRecycling has changed the way we do business. We’ve saved a lot of money and diverted a lot of waste into the proper channels. We’ve engaged and educated our employees and customers, all while making a difference!”

The project is also gaining interest and winning awards. In 2016, the project won the Recycling Association of Minnesota’s Green Project Award. In 2017, White Bear Lake won a City of Excellence Award from the League of Minnesota Cities for its role in facilitating the construction of the waste enclosure. You can read more about the project on Minnesota Cities Magazine.

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