STILLWATER — VistaTek LLC is a custom manufacturer located in Stillwater. The owners are brothers Danny Mishek and Al Mishek, who also started SelfEco LLC, a manufacturing company which uses a plant based biopolymer (polylactic acid, or PLA) to make compostable drinkware, plates, bowls, and garden pots. When Danny heard about the Waste Wise program and the BizRecylcling Grant Program, he saw an opportunity. After all, the mission behind SelfEco is to create sustainable products and reduce waste. “We wanted to make sure we were doing our best to reduce waste within the company too,” Mishek explained.
Waste Wise staff worked with Mishek to implement several waste reduction strategies. First, VistaTek and Self Eco (housed in the same building) added an organics recycling program to collect food scraps from the breakroom, paper towels, and compostable foodservice ware. Second, they added new color-coded bins in their conference and break rooms, which allows staff to clearly distinguish between trash, recycling, and organics recycling. Third, to help reuse material that was otherwise headed to the trash, a granulator was installed to turn used PLA product into pellets so the material can be reprocessed into new product. Funding for the new bins and granulator were provided by the county’s BizRecycling Grant Program.
With these improvements, VistaTek and SelfEco were able to increase their annual landfill diversion by a total of about 33,800 pounds (26,000 pounds diverted through organics recycling and 7,800 pounds diverted by using the granulator). When asked about the impact of these improvements, Mishek said, “Before, 100% of our used PLA product was going to the landfill and now we only landfill 50%-60%, so it has really made a difference in our diversion!”