What: Adding single stream recycling collection and Food to Hogs food waste recycling.
Why: To drastically reduce their overall contribution to the trash stream and make the environmentally responsible decision.
How: Partnered with Anoka County and Waste Wise to get all of the collection tools and signs for free and adding Food to Hogs recycling service.
Results: Diverting 24,700 pounds of food waste and 3,469 pounds of additional single stream recycling from the trash stream annually.
Waste Wise first met with Community Emergency Assistance Programs of Blaine (CEAP) after receiving a tip from the county building in which CEAP resides regarding the high volume of food waste in the trash. Since CEAP accepts thousands of pounds of food donations to be distributed to local residents in need, they generate a significant amount of perishable food waste. CEAP agreed to meet with Waste Wise in early 2016 to discuss opportunities for getting this material out of their waste stream and into a more sustainable recycling program.
Following their meeting with Waste Wise, Family Services Manager Holli Rolfe and Facilities Engineer Karl Wucher decided to implement a Food to Hogs recycling program. CEAP was able to utilize the Anoka County business recycling grant to get bins and signs that would help educate their employees and volunteers regarding acceptable materials for both their food waste and single stream recycling. With all of the tools in place, CEAP was ready to begin collecting food waste for recycling.
At this point, CEAP had MN Waste Wise Sustainability Specialist Jon Klapperich out to visit on a food delivery day to go over which materials could be included in the food to hogs program and how much de-packaging needed to be done to ensure this food waste was safe for the hogs’ consumption. Waste Wise also found by de-packaging some of their food waste, CEAP could recycle more plastic clamshell containers, yogurt tubs, milk jugs and other single stream recyclables.
CEAP’s new recycling program did not come without a set of unique challenges. With so much activity from various tenants in this large county building, granting access to the Food to Hogs waste hauler proved to be a significant barrier.
Waste Wise, Anoka County and CEAP all remained committed to this initiative and managed to finally come up with a logistics plan that ensures that the food waste gets removed in a timely manner. This plan helps to eliminate smells associated with large volumes of food waste and also makes sure empty bins are always on hand so as much food waste can be recycled as possible.
All of this hard work has really paid off. CEAP is now diverting nearly over 28,000 pounds of recyclable material every year that was previously destined for either landfill or waste to energy. Holli Rolfe is excited about the new recycling program stating, “Our volunteers really understand the recycling program and are happy to participate.” Even with the hardships associated with getting the program up and running Holli remains positive, “We’re committed to making this recycling program work so we can do the right thing for the environment and our community.”