Success Story – Culver’s Changes Trash into Savings

ANOKA – In fast food restaurants, food waste can pile up fast. So can the waste hauling bills.

When the Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation first met with Amanda Braml, owner of the Culver’s on West Main Street in Anoka, the only material the restaurant was recycling was cardboard. The rest was handled as trash—a whopping ton of it each week was going to the landfill.

Braml found the situation to be at odds with her longstanding commitment to being a responsible and charitable community member. She asked Waste Wise for help expanding the restaurant’s recycling program, and adding organics to the list.

Waste Wise first connected Braml with her existing service provider, Aspen Waste Systems, to add single stream recycling, and then facilitated a new relationship with Waste Management for organics recycling.

With hauling services in place, Culver’s was ready to implement a single-stream recycling system. This meant their outdoor waste enclosure needed to get bigger, and collection bins and signage needed to be added inside for customers and employees. To offset the cost, Culver’s obtained a $4,000 Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Business Environmental Sustainability Finance Program grant.

Staff and management have made a smooth transition to the new system. “It has been going much better than I had anticipated,” said Braml. “Our guests are beginning to understand the program, and it is a lot less stressful than I thought it would be.”

Most importantly, the new program has significantly reduced Culver’s’ waste. “We have gone from 2,000 pounds of trash each week to only 600 pounds. To see this change so quickly is remarkable,” commented Braml. Culver’s is now saving nearly $2,000 annually by cutting the number of trash pick-ups.

Over 60,000 pounds a year of recyclable material is now being diverted from the landfill or incinerator. It is being used to create new products and provide compost for farms, gardens and public works projects.

Braml is so pleased with the results that she has implemented this same recycling program at her restaurant in West St. Paul, and may soon do so at her Savage location as well.

Waste Wise program services were provided under a contract with Anoka County.