SAINT PAUL – As a Saint Paul institution on Grand Avenue known for the finest quality of baked goods and gourmet foods, Café Latte wanted to build on that reputation by incorporating sustainable business practices into their daily operations. Owners Peter and Linda Quinn turned to the Grand Avenue Business Association for guidance and were referred to Minnesota Waste Wise.
Waste Wise completed a site visit at the café in December 2011 and recommended a commercial composting program to help divert a significant portion of the business’s waste from the landfill. Waste Wise demonstrated how commercial composting would allow the café to recycle not only their food scraps, but also paper products such as napkins and milk, juice and tea cartons. At the time, only a few option were available for organics recycling, so Waste Wise continued to provide assistance into 2012 and eventually connected Café Latte with Sanimax, a grease hauling company that recently started offering commercial composting collection in the Twin Cities Metro area.
Before implementing the new program, Waste Wise also provided leadership to help Café Latte work through a variety of barriers, such as container placement, what type of compostable bags to purchase and training employees, ensuring a successful and cost effective program. In 2013, Café Latte finally implemented commercial composting through Sanimax, and immediately reduced their trash volume by 50%.
Co-owner Peter Quinn was impressed with how staff greeted the change. “Rather than complaining about having to separate items, staff were really excited for the program.” Waste Wise assisted Quinn in finding options for attaching instructional signage to bins where bags overhang the edges and will be following-up on an ongoing basis for staff training and program monitoring.
Once at its full capacity, Café Latte’s new commercial composting program is expected to divert over 208,000 pounds of organic material per year, reducing trash output by 75%. This is expected to save the restaurant over $1,200 annually. According to Quinn, while the savings are desirable, “Customer reaction has been very good, and that is the biggest thing.”
Waste Wise program services were provided under a contract with Ramsey and Washington County.